By Jasmine Andersson
The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the government to take action to fix the country’s “broken” social care system in his new year message.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby said care homes were struggling to deal with rising bills while trying to find the staff needed to keep going.
He said the country needed to “rise to the challenge” to repair the industry.
The government said in response that it was providing £7.5bn in support over the next two years.
The archbishop’s televised message comes as he prepares to publish a report on the social care crisis in January, which will cover how he thinks the system can be fixed.
He has worked on the research – which has focused on ways to create a fairer social care system – for two years alongside the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell.
In his message – which will be broadcast on BBC One at 12:55 GMT on Sunday – Mr Welby said: “We know our care system is broken, but it doesn’t have to be. We can rise to the challenge of fixing it. That means action from all of us: you, me, families, communities, government.
“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.”
He added that looking after elderly relatives was a “privilege”, and he would “rejoice” that his own 93-year-old mother was still alive.
And Mr Welby stressed the importance of ensuring the work of carers was properly valued by society.
Currently a care worker in England is paid on average £8,000 a year less than NHS staff with the same skills, charity research for care provider Community Integrated Solutions has suggested.
The archbishop said: “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 his report would offer a “hopeful vision of our society”, where “no-one is held back, overlooked, or treated as a burden”.
He said families and unpaid carers should get support too.
The report follows the government placing a two-year delay on reforms to the system that will see a lifetime cap on social care costs in England.
Jeremy Hunt paused the plans in November, and said the funding would instead be used to increase the adult social care and NHS budget.
If the lifetime cap goes ahead, people in England will not spend more than £86,000 on their personal care costs in their lifetime, with the government paying any additional costs.
In a statement, a government spokesman said ministers had prioritised social care in last month’s autumn statement making available up to £7.5bn in support over the next two years.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak released a video message on social media marking the new year, in which he said he was confident “better times lie ahead” and he wanted people to feel “hopeful” going into 2023.
“I may have only had the job for several weeks at this point, but actually I feel good about the future,” he said.
“I feel positive about the change that we can bring so that we can improve everyone’s lives, so that we can deliver the peace of mind that people are looking for in the here and now.”
Mr Sunak’s video address struck a more upbeat tone than his earlier message when he said the UK’s problems will not go away in 2023.