I am deeply moved by the problems faced by anyone affected by multiple sclerosis and I pay tribute to the MS Society for its tireless efforts in campaigning, funding research and providing vital support and information to people living with MS.
I am concerned by reports that one in three people living with MS are not receiving the essential care and support they need, and that higher proportions of people are now paying for care and relying on family and friends to care for them. I agree with you that the Government should put forward a long-term funding plan to address the underfunding of social care.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services finds that, by the end of this financial year, £6.3 billion will have been cut from adult social care budgets since 2010. The Health Foundation has also said that that six years of real-terms reductions in social care budgets have left 400,000 fewer people receiving essential help.
The Government has announced its intention to publish a Green Paper later in the year setting out proposals for the long-term sustainable funding of social care. In October I supported an Opposition motion in the House of Commons which called on the Government to commit to the extra funding needed to close the social care funding gap for 2017 and for the remaining years of this parliament. It will be interesting to see whether there is any provision in the forthcoming budget which will allow the government to meet any of its stated aims.
At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that promised an extra £8 billion for social care, including an additional £1 billion to tackle the immediate funding gap. This would ensure care staff are paid the National Living Wage and extend publicly funded social care to thousands of people.
I believe the Government must give our health and care system the resources it needs to provide the best possible care. The Chancellor should use his budget in November to finally put the NHS on a secure financial footing for the long term.