The Covid-19 pandemic has served to magnify the already escalating crisis of social care. 

Some 94% of councils will be forced to cut spending next year, according to a National Audit Office report last week. As social care is often local councils’ biggest spend, it is in this vital area that the brunt of the cuts will undoubtedly fall.

Over decades successive governments have failed to reform this sector, thereby failing to recognise and tackle the ever-increasing demands of an ageing population. Now, for this generation hit hardest by today's pandemic, reform is  desperately needed.

This is not just a problem for the acute end of the care system - in the hospitals and care homes - on which the crisis has shone a relentless spotlight. Critically, it has also illuminated the undeniable need for help and support in the community right across the nation as more and more people require, and deserve, help and support to achieve their wish to continue living independently in their own homes.

It is at this, the ‘preventative’ end of the social care system, where resources are most desperately needed. Yet, this is the exact area where the least is spent. And, this is the area where now those much-needed resources are most at threat.

Currently 2,000 people a day nationally are refused help by their local authority, Age UK research has found. Councils use statutory ‘thresholds’, and ‘eligibility criteria’ to determine how they manage their limited resources, which often results in very little for the crucial element of ‘prevention’.

As night follows day, if prevention is not prioritised then neglect increases , resulting in an inevitable and growing demand for statutory help.

While we  still await reform, and as  financial pressures on local authorities continue to increase, it is imperative that we understand this: the answer to this problem does not lie in short-term decision-making  or any reduction in spend on those very services that, ultimately, can and do prevent people needing formal statutory care.