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Government says it will focus on health & social care and housing this year

What new announcements mean for people we support

The government has said health, social care and housing are on its agenda for the coming year.

They were both mentioned in the Queen’s Speech which sets out the government’s plans for the next term of parliament.

With thousands facing homelessness and mental health emergencies as a result of the pandemic, we’ve examined what this actually means for people we support.

Health and social care

The government announced a renewed focus on preventing people from developing avoidable health issues.

We know that struggling households – those surviving on low incomes, living in insecure housing or experiencing difficulties with employment – experience inequalities that affect both their physical and mental health. The extra emotional strain caused by Covid-related job losses, worries about money, housing, heating and food, and being cut off from support networks, is likely to have increased these issues.

The government must tackle the social inequalities that are linked to poor physical and mental health. It must take urgent action to improve the conditions of people’s everyday life: a fairer welfare system and investment in education, employment and housing. Doing so will prevent a legacy of poor physical and mental health as a result of the pandemic.

The government also said it would bring forward measures to reform social care but there were no further details about what this will look like and there were no details on how they are going to address the crisis in social care funding.

Social care is essential in improving the conditions of people’s lives and addressing population health needs. Unless it is properly funded, the government will fall short of its ambition to ‘level up’ communities.

Housing

The government announced plans to enhance the rights of renters. Covid-related job losses and financial uncertainty has left thousands of renters at risk of eviction and homelessness, so we look forward to seeing new proposals to protect them. These must be delivered urgently to prevent an upsurge in evictions once the government’s protection measures end.

There was also an announcement to change the planning system so that more new homes can be built. We welcome this decision and urge the government to use the opportunity to improve the system so that it is more effective at delivering affordable homes.

Public finances and economic recovery

The speech said that public finances will be ‘returned to a sustainable path’ once the country’s economic recovery from Covid is secure.

This must not mean a return to austerity measures which will hit deprived communities, people who are already struggling and the services which exist to help them the hardest.

We understand that the country is facing enormous financial challenges, but now is the time to protect the most vulnerable and ensure that people are not pushed further into hardship by this crisis.

Without a real and meaningful pledge to fund social care, especially for those not deemed vulnerable enough to receive help, the problems of homelessness and all it causes will continue.