Today the Chancellor George Osborne presented his spending review to Parliament. This sets out the Government’s spending plans for the next 4 years.The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) is disappointed with the announcements made around social care, as they fell short of the increased investment needed.
Vicky McDermott, Chair of the Care and Support Alliance explained,
“The spending review failed its social care test. George Osborne majored on economic security but comprehensively failed to provide the social care system with a secure long term economic plan.
“The Conservative government was elected on a promise to invest £6bn into social care by 2020. Today’s announcement suggests that the maximum amount the government can hope to raise for social care is under £2bn and even this figure is not guaranteed. It will mean that the government is significantly short of providing what it promised.
“This may be mitigated to some extent by an additional £1.5bn of funding to Better Care Fund. The Better Care Fund has not delivered thus far for social care, and whilst we welcome additional funding, without significant reform for the fund we are not left optimistic that this will make the difference to the social care system that is desperately needed.
“This is a betrayal of vulnerable disabled and older people and it will increase pressures on the NHS whilst meaning care providers in poorer parts of the country will no longer be able to offer care services”.
The following sets out in more detail what the Chancellor said on care and what we think:
2% Council tax rise:
The Government have confirmed that they will allow councils to be flexible in raising their council tax by 2% to raise funds to help social care pressures.
The Care and Support Alliance are concerned that:
- raising it through councils tax means that in wealthier local areas are able to raise more, but it is local areas, which are in need of greater social care support who are limited in what they are able to raise
- It will also be a real challenge for Government to ensure that sufficient mechanisms are in place to make sure that money reaches social care
- As the 2% is optional, there is concerns with how many local councils will actually seek to increase the council tax by 2% which inevitably means that is very unlikely to raise all of the almost £2bn estimated
Better Care Fund:
The Government have also stated there will be a 1.5bn increase in the Better Care Fund
- The CSA believe that there must be clarity on whether the money will actually go to social care, as the BCF is an integrated fund shared with the NHS
- The Government have also claimed that this will be an ‘improved better care fund’ we therefore need clarity on how this will be improved to ensure it becomes effective in supporting social care needs
- This money will also not be seen until 2017/18
- It remains to be seen if this money will be used for social care or to help cover the costs of increased funding for carers wages when the National Living Wage is introduced.
The government had earmarked £6bn for social care through the care cap which they delayed implementing until 2020. This money should have been invested, in full, back into social care.
Today’s announcement demonstrates that this has not happened. In fact there is only a guaranteed £1.5bn allocated to the Better Care Fund which will also be shared with the NHS. Any additional monies have to be raised by taxation through the local authority precepts.
The long term economic future of care providers across the country is uncertain. The government failed to end the uncertainty today.
The CSA are also disappointed with the potential income that could be raised from these announcements, which at the most amounts to almost £3.5bn which does not come close to dealing with the significant funding gap and meeting the social care demands.
You can read the full Spending Review here, please note that social care is mentioned in the chapter pertaining to devolution: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spending-review-and-autumn-statement-2015-documents/spending-review-and-autumn-statement-2015#a-sustainable-health-and-social-care-system-1