Political Update 16/04/20 – A National Action Plan for Adult Social Care

Today’s political update covers the Department of Health and Social Care’s plan to support the social care sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

Political update

The Department of Health and Social Care has published a plan to support the social care sector’s response to COVID-19. Click here to view. The measures were outlined in yesterday’s press conference and include plans to protect residents and support 1.5m colleagues working in social care:

  • Rules have been strengthened, so that all patients discharged from hospitals will be tested before entering a care home setting.
  • All symptomatic residents will be tested. Tests will be available for all care home staff, and their families, who need to be tested. Increasing PPE supplies to social care.  Over the next three weeks, priority drops to local resilience forums who distribute to social care setting.
  • Enhancing support for social care workforce. Introducing a single brand for social care workers. A badge of honor to display their work, similar to the NHS blue badge identifiable with NHS staff. Social care staff will get the same priority access to supermarkets as NHS staff.
  • Strengthening the national recruitment campaign to attract people to social care. The Government will pay for initial induction training.
  • Giving people the right to say goodbye. Care homes support individuals towards the end of their lives. Coronavirus has made this difficult due to social distancing measures. Hancock announced that the Government are introducing new procedures so that where possible, closest loved ones will be given a chance to say goodbye.
  • Advanced care plans will not be applied in a blanket fashion for any group, including DNRs.
  • Addressing Carers directly, Hancock thanked their vitally necessary work and their kindness.

Dedicated testing has already begun for frontline staff, including social care workers and in addition to over 20,000 tests for NHS workers and their families. As capacity grows further it will prioritise the testing of symptomatic social care workers and anyone in their household who have COVID-19 symptoms. CQC are leading co-ordination of testing for the care sector, and have already offered 6,000 care facilities the opportunity to test their staff. By the end of the week they will have contacted all 30,000 care providers.

Care providers will identify workers eligible for testing and refer them to their local testing centre. Tests for social care staff and residents will support the government to achieve its ambition of 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day by end of April.

Influencing action

The External Affairs team have submitted evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s inquiry on the Impact of Covid-19 on Charities, detailing Age UK’s situation nationally and locally, and why the sector needs a long-term package of financial support from the Government. This has included case studies from Age UK Isle of Wight, Age UK East Sussex and Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington. We continue to discuss funding and furlough difficulties with Government departments including Defra, DCMS and the Department for Health and Social Care.

Age UK continues to highlight the crisis of Covid-19 in care homes, including Caroline Abrahams comment in the Daily Mail on only some 500 social care workers, out of a workforce of 1.5m, in England having been tested for coronavirus so far and on social care staff having the right PPE in the I paper.

Age UK has put in bids to the Departments’ of Health and Social Care and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for possible funding during the pandemic, and are also in ongoing discussions with the Big Lottery.

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington to write to their MP Rishi Sunak to put pressure on the Government to consider more long-term support for the sector during the pandemic.

Please contact Robert Henderson or Alison Trew if you have the capacity to reach out to your MPs to ask them to write to the Treasury and DCMS to ask for a long-term package of support.

Political Update 15.04.20 – More tests promised for care homes

The latest political and influencing news covers the promise of increased tests for care homes and a summary of Age UK’s recent influencing work.

Political update

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, will finally announce today that all care home residents and social care staff with Covid-19 symptoms will be tested as capacity increases. Hancock says this is due to testing capacity increases. It follows statistics from the ONS highlighting that Covid related deaths outside of hospitals had been grossly under represented.

The ONS figures for weekly death occurrences in England and Wales: up to week ending 3 April 2020 have been released. The figures give an indication to the number of deaths relating to coronavirus, and have shown us that deaths in care homes week for the ending 3rd April (237) was 10 times higher than those that died in care homes in the week ending 27th March (20). Age UK’s influencing work on this issue is highlighted below. The NHS England reconciled figures (deaths allotted to the date of death on the certificate) report around 5,200 deaths for this period. These ONS figures show a 15% differentiation from the NHS daily reconciled figures.

Protective gowns and masks could be reused by health workers under “last resort” coronavirus plans revealed in a leaked Public Health England document, the BBC reports. Helen Whateley, a health minister, told BBC Breakfast that there had been a “global scramble for PPE”, adding: “It is a precious resource… we have to make sure it is used when you need it to either protect a member of the workforce or protect a patient. Because people have been crying out wanting to use PPE all the time for everything and actually that is not the best way.”

Chris Townsend OBE has been appointed to lead the government’s shielding programme to protect those at highest risk from coronavirus. The government’s shielding effort is already underway, and around 250,000 boxes of essential food have already been delivered by wholesalers to those at highest risk across the country, with hundreds of thousands more to follow in the coming weeks.

UK confirmed cases: 93,873 – up 5,252 | UK deaths: 12,107 – up 778

Influencing Action

The External Affairs team have compiled a submission to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s inquiry on the Impact of Covid-19 on Charities, detailing Age UK’s situation nationally and locally, and why the sector needs a long-term package of financial support from the Government. We continue to discuss funding and furlough difficulties with Government departments including Defra, DCMS and the Department for Health and Social Care.

Age UK has been working to highlight the crisis of Covid-19 in care homes, including Caroline Abrahams comment in the Daily Mail on only some 500 social care workers, out of a workforce of 1.5m, in England having been tested for coronavirus so far; Robert Henderson on Talk Sport discussing why it is so important for us to protect vulnerable people and staff in care homes; Angela Kitching on ITV Eastern region and TalkRadio.

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington to write to their MP Rishi Sunak to put pressure on the Government to consider more long-term support for the sector during the pandemic. Please contact Robert Henderson or Alison Trew if you have the capacity to reach out to your MPs to ask them to write to the Treasury and DCMS to ask for a long-term package of support.

We have also been working with the All-Party Group for Ageing and Older People to write to the Minister on their concerns for older people’s human rights during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Political Update 14/04/20 – Age UK calls for Government to support social care

The latest political and influencing news from across the bank holiday weekend. Including Age UK’s call for greater support for social care.

Political Update

UK confirmed cases: 88,621 – up 4,342 | UK deaths: 11,329 – up 717

The Cabinet debates this week how long the lockdown will continue for and whether to encourage some people to return to work. It is likely that the lockdown will continue for at least another three weeks, until May 7.

Boris Johnson remains at Chequers, where his recuperation continues. The Prime Minister is not expected back at work full-time for several weeks. There will be no Cabinet meeting today.

The statistics on the number of people who have died in the community, including in care homes will be released by the Office of National Statistics today. Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, revealed that 92 care homes had experienced a virus outbreak in the past 24 hours. Some 13.5 per cent of care homes now have cases. Age UK’s influencing work on this issue is highlighted below.

The Labour Party announced new members of its Shadow Cabinet, including Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Social Care, and Rachael Maskell MP, Shadow Minister for Voluntary Sector and Charities. Click here to find out more.

Influencing Action

Along with Alzheimer’s Society, Marie Curie, Care England, Independent Age, Age UK are calling for the Government to publish a comprehensive plan to support social care through the coronavirus pandemic, which includes:

  • PPE equipment readily available to care homes. Without it, all residents’ lives are at risk
  • Care home staff, and people being discharged from hospital into care homes, given priority testing, alongside critical NHS staff
  • Support to ensure contact can be maintained between care home residents and their families
  • Good palliative and end-of-life care for people dying in the care system
  • A daily update on coronavirus deaths in the care system, just like deaths in the NHS, so that as a society we can understand the scale of the challenge we face.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director wrote over the weekend of the growing issues in UK care homes. View this article here.

These releases have been widely covered including on the BBC – click here to find out more.

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington to write to their MP Rishi Sunak to put pressure on the Government to consider more long-term support for the sector during the pandemic. Please contact Robert Henderson or Alison Trew if you have the capacity to reach out to your MPs to ask them to write to the Treasury and DCMS to ask for a long-term package of support.

Over the weekend, we have continued to contact Government Departments about the funding announced last week. Over the weekend Age UK and local partners were featured in the launch of DCMS’ #LookOutForEachOther campaign to highlight the way charities and volunteers are supporting people during the COVID19 outbreak.

We are in discussions with Defra regarding access to food amongst older people who live alone and don’t have family support.

Political Update 09/04/20 – Age UK reacts to Chancellor’s aid for charities

Get the latest on the new aid package for charities, plus updates on unpaid care, social support for vulnerable groups and much more.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a £750m package for UK Charities

As part of a UK-wide package of support, £360 million will be directly allocated by government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis.  As well as this, £370 million for small and medium-sized charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund for those in England, will support those organisations at the heart of local communities which are making a big difference during the outbreak, including those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice.

The Chancellor also announced the Government will match fund whatever the public decides to donate to the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal on 23 April, starting with a contribution of at least £20 million to the National Emergencies Trust appeal.

Age UK view the funding announced by the Chancellor as short term relief and it is probably best seen as a down payment for the sustained support the charity sector.

Click here for Age UK’s full response; and click here for NCVO’s reaction.

Unpaid Care Guidance

The Department of Health and Social Care have today released guidance for those who provide unpaid care to family or friends. The guidance recommends carers create an emergency plan that fits the needs of the person they care for. The guidance also sets what steps can be taken to reduce the risks for the most vulnerable, on using facemasks and if carers an no longer able to provide care.

Social Support for Vulnerable Groups

The ONS has issued a release focussing on social relationships and social support for vulnerable groups during the coronavirus pandemic. This release considers the ways in which vulnerable groups normally receive support from their family, friends and wider community, to understand how a period of isolation might impact those in need of extra support. Key points include:

  • Around one in seven UK parents who belonged to one of the vulnerable groups regularly received cooked meals from an adult child not living with them in the period 2017 to 2018.
  • Over the same period, nearly three in ten UK parents aged 70 years and over with a self-defined disability (28.9%) got their shopping regularly from an adult child not living with them.
  • People who were Equality Act Disabled were most likely to report feeling lonely “often or always” in England in 2018 to 2019 at 14.1%.
  • In 2018 to 2019, those aged 65 years and over in England were most likely to feel “very comfortable” asking a neighbour to collect essentials for them if they were ill (40.4%).

Report finds BAME groups disproportionately affected by coronavirus

A report by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre found that BAME groups have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus, reports the Guardian. In the study, 35% of 2000 patients were BAME, which is almost triple the proportion in the rest of the UK population. This may be attributed to certain groups living in more deprived areas, or living in multi-generational households which make social-isolation more difficult in practice.

Influencing action

The weekly email went out to MPs this week, which focused on safeguarding and access to treatment. This included our concerns about older people being pressured in to signing Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. We are seeing shocking examples where blanket decisions seem to be being made about the care and treatment options that will be available to older and vulnerable people, who have felt pressurised into signing DNR forms. If you would like any more information about this, have heard examples of this happening from the people you work with, or an MP has been in touch with you about this, please contact Robert Henderson or Alison Trew.

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK East Sussex and Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington to contact their MPs. We have heard back from MPs for Age UK Croydon, Age UK Cheshire East, Age UK Northumberland and Age UK Bradford who have written to the Minister on their behalf.

Political Update: 08/04/20 – Engaging with MPs

Today’s political update covers updated guidance on the Job Retention Scheme and how the network is engaging with MPs.

The Bank of England announced it will open the TFSME (Term Funding Scheme with additional incentives for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) on 15 April 2020, sooner than previously anticipated. The scheme allows eligible banks and building societies to access four-year funding at rates very close to Bank Rates and includes additional incentives to provide credit to SMEs. The aim is to support SMEs’ ability to access funding from the banking system, helping them to continue to pay wages and bills during this challenging time.  

The Government has updated the guidance on the Job Retention Scheme. The changes include mentioning that employees made redundant, or who stopped working for an employer on or after 28 February 2020, can be re-employed and put on furlough and employers can claim for their wages through the scheme.   

CEO of the Charity Commission, Helen Stephenson, has spoken about the role of the charity sector in response to the coronavirus. Reflecting on the vital work charities have been carrying out during the time of this pandemic, Stephenson has said how it is important they are not taken for granted. Stephenson refers back to the published guidance for the charity sector and said that the Commission will strive to be flexible so to help charities respond in the best and most effective way possible. There has not yet been any other output from the Government as to what they might do to further support charities. The Charity Tax Group however have put together some guidance, including their communications with HMRC, which might be of interest – click here to read.

Influencing action

The External Affairs team is writing to MPs this week to let them know we are concerned about older people being pressured in to signing Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. We are seeing shocking examples where blanket decisions seem to be being made about the care and treatment options that will be available to older and vulnerable people, who have felt pressurised into signing DNR forms. If you would like any more information about this, have heard examples of this happening from the people you work with, or an MP has been in touch with you about this, please contact Robert Henderson or Alison Trew.

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK Cheshire East to write to their MPs to put pressure on the Government to announce a package of support for the sector, their MP David Rutley has responded and written to the Secretary of State for DCMS.

We are also working with Age UK East Sussex on MP engagement and a public statement about the increasing demand they are seeing for their services and the funding pressures they face.

The team are working closely with Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington to put pressure on the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is one of their local MPs. This will include writing to him in in his capacity as their local MP and local media articles in the Northern Echo.

The Minister for Loneliness Baroness Barron has replied to Age UK Solihull’s letter via their MP Julian Knight, who has said that DCMS is engaging with the sector to get a complete picture of the impact of covid-19 and what support is needed for the sector.

Please contact Robert Henderson or Alison Trew if you have the capacity to reach out to your local MPs.

Political Update: 07/04/20 – Prime Minister moved to intensive care

Today’s political update has the latest on the Prime Minister’s condition and Age UK’s joint statement on DNR forms.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care yesterday evening following a deterioration of his condition. There has been no formal update on his condition this morning, but it is understood he is not on a ventilator but has received oxygen treatment. Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, Dominic Raab will deputise for the Prime Minister “where necessary”.  

At yesterday’s press conference, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty made clear that the lockdown period is not going to be over in a couple of weeks, with likelihood it lasts at least another four weeks. 

Keir Starmer, new leader of the Labour Party, has made further announcements on Shadow Cabinet positions, including Jo Stevens as Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Minister. 

Influencing action 

Age sector organisations, including Age UK, have released a joint statement on older people being pressured into signing DNR forms.  

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK North Yorkshire, Age UK Bristol and Age UK Lancashire to write to their MPs to put pressure on the Government to announce a package of support for the sector. Please contact Robert Henderson or Alison Trew if you have the capacity to reach out to your MPs to raise awareness of the challenges that you face and to ask for Government support. 

Age UK have provided the Treasury with further information about what we are doing to help during the pandemic and what the financial impact is on ourselves and our local partners.

 

Political Update: 06/04/20 – Shadow C-19 Committee Announced

Catch up with the latest political and influencing news from across the weekend.

The Department of Health and Social Care has published guidance on how to protect care home residents and staff during the coronavirus outbreak. See details below and do get in touch if you have any queries. The full guidance can be accessed here.

Yesterday Keir Starmer, new leader of the Labour Party, announced senior members of his Shadow Cabinet who will be charged with responding to the coronavirus outbreak. The Labour Leader will chair a new Shadow C-19 Committee, which will be responsible for coordinating the Party’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The members of the Committee are:

  • Keir Starmer, Leader of the Opposition
  • Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Labour Party
  • Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Lisa Nandy, Shadow Foreign Secretary
  • Nick Thomas-Symonds, Shadow Home Secretary
  • Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
  • Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Influencing update

Last week there was a fantastic piece on the BBC news about Age UK Wandsworth and their service to deliver food to older people locally with 350 requests in 10 days. Click here to view.

Age UK York were on Radio 5 Live on Sunday morning talking about the people they support and the financial pressure on the charity sector. You can hear the piece here at 57 minutes.

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK Manchester to write to their MPs to put pressure on the Government to announce a package of support for the sector. Please contact Robert Henderson or Alison Trew if you have the capacity to reach out to your MPs to raise awareness of the challenges that you face and to ask for Government support.

Caroline Abrahams joined a call with Defra about food poverty/ access to food and initiatives to deliver food on Thursday.

We continue to be in direct contact with DCMS at all levels to update them on current pressures on Age UKs.

Political Update: 03/04/20 – Ask the Chancellor

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak will be doing a Twitter Q&A using #AskRishi. We think this a great opportunity to ask the Chancellor when he will be announcing a package of support for the charity & voluntary sector. If you have time, please retweet Age UK’s tweet to the Chancellor.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced a new 5-pillar plan outlines national effort to increase testing to 100,000 a day in England. More information here.

Influencing action

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK Croydon to write to their MPs to put pressure on the Government to announce a package of support for the sector. Please contact Robert Henderson or Alison Trew if you have the capacity to reach out to your MPs to raise awareness of the challenges that you face and to ask for Government support.

We have sent our weekly email to all MPs, with advice for their constituents, information for volunteers, and to ask them to support the sector during this time. We have also sent out good news stories of the great initiatives partners across the network are doing.

The Treasury Select Committee has published evidence it has received on its inquiry on the economic impact of coronavirus, including from Age UK. In the summary they state that “Calls for emergency funding for frontline charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises who are supporting the response, especially where these are alleviating pressure on the health service or providing support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of COVID-19. Calls to establish a ‘Stabilisation Fund’ to enable charities to stay afloat and continue operating during the course of the pandemic. Charities should be eligible to benefit from the measures announced by the Chancellor for businesses.” As soon as the Treasury respond to the Committee we will let you all know.

We are working with the CSA to provide case studies to the Health and Social Care Committee, who would like to hear about experiences of vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis, specifically whether people are struggling to meet their basic needs (accessing food, personal care) while shielding/isolating etc.

We continue to be in direct contact with DCMS at all levels to update them on current pressures on Age UKs.

Political Update – 02/04/20

The DHSC have released guidance to assist local authorities use Care Act provisions as created under the Coronavirus Act 2020. These provisions are temporary, and should be used only where local authorities are not able to comply with duties as under the Care Act 2014. They are to help local authorities prioritise who needs care most.

The Government is aiming to test 25,000 a day for Covid-19 within a fortnight according to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for MHCLG.

Influencing action

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK Bradford, Age UK Isle of Wight, Age UK Bury, and Age UK Suffolk, to write to their MPs to put pressure on the Government to announce a package of support for the sector. Please contact Rob Henderson or Alison Trew if you have the capacity to reach out to your MPs to raise awareness of the challenges that you face and to ask for Government support.

Age UK is putting pressure on supermarkets to better respond to the needs of older and vulnerable people during this time, to ensure those that are able to can access home deliveries. Age UK is also working with the Post Office to ensure older people have access to cash during this time. More information on both of these projects will be available soon.

We continue to be in direct contact with DCMS at all levels to update them on current pressures on Age UKs. An article in the Telegraph yesterday suggested support for the sector would be coming soon.

 

Daily Political Update – 01/04/2020

Today’s political update looks at recent influencing actions by Age UK and the DCMS inquiry session into the impact of coronavirus on the charity sector.

The DCMS Committee held an inquiry session on the impact of COVID-19 on the charity sector, with representatives from NCVO, St Johns Ambulance and MNDA. Chair Julian Knight said that the Committee had been inundated with cries for help from the sector and all members of committee seemed well informed of the crisis that the sector is facing, including frustration that Government aren’t talking to the sector about its needs.

The full session can be viewed here.

Influencing action

The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK London to write to their MPs to put pressure on the Government to announce a package of support for the sector.

Age UKs across the UK including Age UK Solihull, Age UK East Sussex and Age UK North, South and West Dorset have written to their MPs outlining their concerns about funding.

Please contact Rob Henderson or Alison Trew if you have the capacity to reach out to your MPs to raise awareness of the challenges that you face and to ask for Government support.

Age UK’s media team yesterday worked with Age UK Camden to raise the issue of increased service demand and reductions in income on the main BBC News Bulletins. The BBC News at 10 broadcast is available for one day only here.

We have also been working with Steve McCabe (MP for Birmingham Selly Oak) and Johnathan Gullis (MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove & Talk) on support for their older constituents.

We continue to be in direct contact with DCMS at all levels to update them on current pressures on Age UKs.

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