On August 23, 1973, a former convict walked into a bank in Stockholm, fired a submachine gun into the air, and proceeded to hold four employees hostage in a vault for six days. When they were eventually rescued, instead of condemning their captors, the hostages absolved them of all responsibility, and even began fundraising for their legal defence.
Such is the extraordinary series of events that gave rise to the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, where those held in awful circumstances eventually began to feel gratitude for the small mercies of their captors.
Recently, however, one can’t help but wonder if the syndrome might be starting to overtake some in the social care sector.
Despite rolling back the National Insurance rise designed to finally put social care on a sustainable financial footing - and yet again announcing a stop-gap winter funding arrangement of £500m - the new Government’s dramatic fiscal plans have met with enthusiasm from some in the sector.
Care England’s Martin Green praised the government for pledging to tackle the hospital discharge issue, the social care workforce, and overseas recruitment. He even welcomed the National Insurance u-turn, on the grounds that it would put more money in the pocket of front-line carers. Whilst this is clearly positive, reneging on the promise to ring-fence money for health and care once again puts the sector at the mercy of general taxation and borrowing. Like a bank-vault hostage, Martin Green cautiously hoped that, “a greater proportion of the £13bn…[will] be diverted directly to adult social care providers”.
The Home Care Association was more circumspect, warning that “without long-term investment in homecare, this short-term funding, though welcome, will be just another sticking plaster that won’t address underlying problems”.
As a ten-year old supplier to social care, we’re more conscious than ever before of the political and financial difficulties facing the sector. In fact, we haven’t changed our prices in the past ten years at all, meaning that providers can, in real terms, use our system today for nearly 20% less than they could in 2012. Alongside our partnership with financial wellbeing organisation Wagestream, and our continued commitment to the Care Workers Charity, we’re hopeful that the strength of the care sector and its suppliers will see it through another challenging period, without the need to unduly sympathise with its fiscal captors.