Social care spending on disabled people in northern England is almost £3,000 less per person than the national average, a new report has said.
In the North, councils spend £21,254 per person on social care for disabled, working-age people, according to a report from think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research North (IPPR North). This figure is £2,736 less than the average for the whole of England. That gap reaches £9,256 per person when comparing the North East, where spending is lowest, with the East of England, where it’s highest.
The report, which examines the effect of coronavirus (Covid-19) on regional inequalities, noted that regional differences in wages may be partially responsible for the gap between North and South, but added it’s “unlikely to be the only rationale for the significantly lower spend in the North”.
The report said there were “numerous other variables at play”, including:
the role of increasingly cash-strapped local authorities in making decisions about budgets and services, as well as the lack of national oversight to ensure consistent commissioning of services.
These differences amounted to a “postcode lottery”, the report added, which may have been exacerbated by differing responses to the pandemic.
Failure to protect
Erica Roscoe, one of the report’s authors, said:
National policy in the UK has failed to protect people who need it most.
For decades, disabled people across the country have found themselves disproportionately affected by multiple inequalities, including our undervalued and under-resourced social care system, and our alarming regional divides.
Now, during the pandemic, those injustices are deepening. This is bad news for everyone, whether disabled people or not.
It is incumbent upon every single decision-maker, from local councillors to the prime minister, to recognise the unique experiences of disabled people living in regions like the North.
It is time to ensure that disabled people have the opportunity to live a good life.
As well as the impact on social care spending, the IPPR North report said the pandemic had exacerbated inequalities in disabled people’s access to healthcare, employment, and education.
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