Archbishop of Canterbury blasts Government over 'broken' social care system

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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (Image: PA)
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (Image: PA)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has demanded action to fix Britain's "broken" social care system.

In his New Year message, the Most Rev Justin Welby warned that care homes are "struggling" to deal with rising bills while battling to hold onto staff.

He urged the Government to "rise to the challenge" of fixing the crisis-hit system after ministers repeatedly kicked the issue into the long grass.

Long-awaited plans to overhaul the care sector have been delayed by a further two years by the Government - despite a 2019 Tory manifesto promise to "fix" social care.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in the Autumn Statement that the £86,000 lifetime cap on how much anyone would need to pay for care was being kicked back to 2025.

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It had been due to kick in from October 2023, leaving frail Brits now facing paying more for social care for longer.

Archbishop of Canterbury blasts Government over 'broken' social care systemCare homes are struggling with rising bills and staffing (Getty Images)

Mr Welby, who is preparing to publish a "significant report" on social care, with the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, raised the issue in his New Year message.

"We know our care system is broken, but it doesn't have to be. We can rise to the challenge of fixing it," he said.

"That means action from all of us: you, me, families, communities, government."

Mr Welby stressed the importance of ensuring the work of carers is properly valued by society.

"Why work as a carer when you might get paid more in less demanding jobs? Caring's certainly not easy. Good carers are wonderful people to be valued," he said.

He said his report, due out in a few weeks, will offer a "hopeful vision of our society".

"One where no one is held back, overlooked or treated as a burden - where families and unpaid carers get support too," he said.

"Caring goes to the heart of what it means to be human. It is hard, but it can also be the most life-giving thing we ever do. It comes back to that essential lesson: we need each other."

A Government spokesman said ministers had prioritised social care in last month's autumn statement making available up to £7.5 billion in support over the next two years.

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"This will allow more people to access high-quality care and help address some of the challenges in the sector - including waiting lists, low fee rates, and workforce pressures," the spokesman said.

"The Government remains committed to delivering adult social care charging reform and supporting those who need it, which is why we are giving local authorities additional time to prepare and providing more funding to help with their immediate pressures."

Mr Welby's New Year message will be broadcast on BBC1 at 12.55pm on Sunday.

Lizzy Buchan

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