So there it is, out of the blue, a snap election has been called. As I listened to the PM announce this and effectively do a complete U-turn on her earlier claims of no such election, I knew Social Care’s brief appearance in the spotlight was over – for the next few months anyway.

The momentum (and coverage) we were finally gathering in respect of raising the awareness and profile of the state of Health and Social Care will stop dead in its tracks. And of course, it won’t be long until we are in purdah and all the lobbying and hard work that has gone on to address Ministers, to challenge sleep-ins and the approach that HMRC have been taking, will of course freeze. What a shame.

Instead now, we will have a good few weeks of ‘he said/she said’ and a focus purely on Brexit as far as I can see. Some are saying it is a pseudo second referendum; some say it’s all a political game rather than a sincere and personal change of heart; some wonder if this the end for Jeremy Corbyn. Whatever it is, as the Conservatives are so far ahead in the opinion polls, Mrs. May can clearly see a golden opportunity and she has said it herself – she is looking for the electorate to give her the mandate to lead us out of Europe. The phrase ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ comes to mind.

Essentially, the political parties have just a few weeks now to lay their plans for a ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ Brexit before us. It’ll be interesting to see what they look like; everyone has seemed to be rather non-committal so far. There have been no real tangible plans for us to reflect upon as yet. Time for all that to change.

Let’s hope through the noise and crackle over the next few weeks, as the political point scoring begins, the critical issues closer to home are also acknowledged and sensible solutions are offered.

Yesterday I spoke with one of our members regarding fee increases, moreover the lack of them. Although money has been made available (allegedly), some Local Authorities are advising of a 0% increase for some service provision, leaving providers to seriously consider the viability of these contracts more than ever. We welcome comments from members if they too are being advised there will be no increases in fees for 2017/18 – so please get in touch. There is an opportunity for a collective response I feel.

We know finances have been stretched to the limit for providers for some time now, and with another National Living Wage increase taking effect on 1st of this month, this has been exacerbated even further. Also, with continuing issues regarding recruitment and retention, how long until the sector can take no more and pops with a bang?!

Whatever happens on 8th June, although Brexit strategies will have taken centre stage, we must ensure the challenges of the sector aren’t lost in the furore.

Lisa Lenton

ARC England Director