Budget- £650m props up social care but ignores the real problems within the care sector

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In response to Phillip Hammond’s announcement of a further £650m for social care in today’s budget, in addition to the £240m announced last month, Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes said: “£650m to prop up the broken social care system only just staves off total collapse. It does nothing for people with dementia who are footing the bill themselves, while people with other diseases are getting free support through the NHS.

“We’re told austerity is over, but people living with dementia have been forgotten, and the Budget was a missed opportunity to end this injustice. Now the pressure is on for the Government to create a properly funded and joined-up system that can deliver high quality dementia care.”

The Independent Care Group says the new money is welcome – provided it reaches the front line -but warns that it is nowhere near enough to end the crisis in the care of older and vulnerable adults.

And they are calling on the Government to come clean over when the much-delayed Green Paper on social care will finally be published.

The independent Care Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham, said: “Despite the Chancellor promising to avoid any Halloween headlines by having his budget today, he has given a nasty shock to the 1.4m people currently living without care.

“The extra £650m to support social care is obviously welcome, but in reality it is just a drop in the ocean compared to what has been pledged for NHS care and to what is needed for social care.

“It goes nowhere near addressing the funding gap on social care, expected to be £3.5bn within seven years and the £7bn that has been cut from social care spending in the past eight years.

“This money, whilst welcome, is not going to address the crisis in social care that is seeing care homes close, homecare providers hand back unviable contracts, extra care providers struggling and, above all, 1.4m people going without the care they need.

“We desperately need to see the long-promised Green Paper, which we hope will set out a proper, long-term solution to the social care crisis.”

Before the budget the group had called on the Chancellor to include a rescue plan for the struggling social care sector to help the 1.4m people who are currently going without the care they need.

It wants to see:

  • Merging NHS health care and social care into a National Care and Health Service
  • Greater funding for social care – possibly through taxation and/or NI contributions – helping social care and easing the burden on the NHS
  • A bursary to encourage more nursing staff into the profession
  • Dementia to be regarded as a health issue and supported like other illnesses
  • An end to the VAT anomaly that damages care providers.

 

But whilst the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to delivering the long-awaited Green Paper for adult social care with financial investments including:

  • £650m of grant funding for local councils in 2019/20 and
  • £45m for the disabled facilities grant in 2018/19.

 

It also points out that the financial plans still leaves the social care sector perilously under-funded with people unable to access preventative services and support to help them today.

 

The sector is under increasing strain, as reflected in recent NHS Digital figures showing that rising demand for adult social care over the last year equates to an additional 5,100 new requests for help per day.

 

There are 11.5 million disabled people in England, and by 2025 there will be 12.2 million, yet successive governments have failed to adequately fund the sector that supports them. Cumulative adult social care cuts since 2010, for example, total £7bn.

 

VODG has consistently lobbied for more funding and repeatedly offered to work with government on long-term funding strategies. The group’s latest analysis A stitch in time: the case for funding social care describes in frank detail the growing threat to the nation’s vital care and support services.

Today’s settlement ignores VODG’s previous warnings on issues such as:

  • the lack of a long term and sustainable funding solution for adult social care to cover working age disabled adults and older people
  • the uncertainty facing social care amid Brexit, with less public funding available for social care and instability in the sector’s labour market
  • the need for central government to inspect local councils in serious financial difficulties, ensuring that statutory duties relating to social care are fully met
  • building more accessible and adaptable homes and improving the installation of home adaptations.

 

VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said:

“Today’s budget takes us a small step forward. But overall the investment announced by the Chancellor is short-sighted. It fails to acknowledge the risks facing a crucial, but woefully under-funded, social care sector delivering support for millions of older and disabled people every day. It is disappointing that the people who rely on essential care services, that enable them to live the lives they choose, have again been overlooked in the nation’s spending plans. We need a long-term solution.”

Director of Policy and Communications for Sense, Kate Fitch, said:

“The social care sector is in crisis, and while £650 million is a welcome injection, the funds fall a long way short of what is needed.

There has been a £7bn reduction in adult social care funding since 2010, with an estimated funding gap of £2.5 billion by 2019/20. £650 million represents only a quarter of the money that is needed.

The latest report from the CQC (State of Care) showed that the tipping point has been reached in some areas, with people suffering due to being unable to access good quality care. Research by the Care and Support Alliance showed that more than a quarter (29%) of working-age disabled adults (18-64 year olds) who rely on council funding have had their care cut over the last year despite their care needs staying the same or increasing.

 

The historic problem of how social care is funded sustainably in this country won’t be solved by a short-term cash injection, that’s just firefighting. What the sector needs is a sustainable funding solution that ensures that people with complex disabilities receive the quality care that they need to live well.

 

It’s been almost two years since the Green Paper was proposed and its continued delay demonstrates a lack of priority and urgency from government in addressing this.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK and co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance said:

 

“Our dominant reaction to today’s Budget announcement is relief, but we are disappointed that the investment in social care wasn’t more and that at £650m (plus £45m for Disabled Facilities Grant),  it is somewhere between a third and half of the amount the experts say is needed to fill existing gaps in services.”

 

Due to lack of funding, next year was shaping up to be truly perilous for the delivery of social care so it is very good news that this extra money has been found, but at £650m it won’t be enough to plug current gaps, let alone bring back the care homes and home care packages we’ve lost over the last decade or so – all at a time when demand has been rising. Unfortunately, despite this additional money the 1.4 million older people with some level of unmet need for care will have to continue to ‘make do’ and those older and disabled people who are lucky enough to be receiving a service are unlikely to see any improvement in 2019.

 

“This announcement also continues the pattern whereby year on year, governments allow social care to teeter on the brink, only to bail it out with an emergency hand out – just enough to prevent total national collapse but no more. The problem is that this approach gives neither staff nor providers much encouragement to stay and so they continue to drift away, storing up even greater problems for the future.

 

“Nothing could better demonstrate the need for a bold and ambitious Social Care Green Paper, fit for meeting the challenge of saving social care for this and future generations, with much also resting on the outcome of next year’s Spending Review. “

Chief executive of United Response, Tim Cooper, said:

“£650m of social care funding announced in today’s Budget is welcome, but must be considered against the severity of the wider social care crisis. 

“The National Audit Office has documented a reduction of almost 50% in Government funding for English Local Authorities since 2010. The Local Government Association has estimated a funding gap of £5.8bn for social care by 2020, which must be filled if councils are to avoid cutting back vital services.

“Set in this context, £650m is a drop in the ocean of what is needed to secure decent care services for disabled people which government has a statutory duty to provide under the Care Act. 

“Government has delayed on numerous occasions its promised Green Paper to determine a long term and sustainable funding solution for adult social care. Piecemeal investment for the next financial year will neither fix our broken social care system nor provide the vital services needed by an ageing and growing population.

“The Chancellor said that today’s Budget was for the ‘strivers, grafters and carers’, yet his silence on funding wages for care workers was once again deafening. Government’s failure to address the ‘sleep-ins’ crisis in overnight care, its lack of guidance or commensurate funding within this budget, has further undermined social care and the carers who work hard to support disabled people day in day out.”

Nick Sanderson, CEO, Audley Group, commented: “The green paper on social care has been on its way for months. There still is little clarity in this Budget about what it will cover, and importantly what it will do to better link health, housing and social care to finally address some of the causes of the social care crisis. As well as rightfully focusing on children in care, the green paper must consider how social care can address the crisis looming for our growing older population. Without that focus now, the money just allocated to bolster the NHS budget will be a tiny drop in the ocean.”

 

Nuffield Trust Chief Economist John Appleby said:

 

“Meanwhile, the financial fate of the vital services on which the NHS relies on was once again left hanging today. While more money going into social care will be welcome, it is another short term fix to a system nobody seriously disputes is fundamentally broken. Troublingly, we heard no guarantees today about the budgets for hospital buildings, IT investments, training or public health. We did hear a guarantee of no new PFI deals – but let’s be realistic, there were none on the horizon anyway.

 

“The uncertainty of Brexit also hangs in the air. This may bring further demands on the health service’s limited room for manoeuvre. The Government believe that a no deal exit would put an £80bn long-term annual hole in the public finances which pay for the NHS. If that happened, austerity might “come to an end”, as the Chancellor said, only to start all over again.”

 

 

 

 

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