Following the Chancellor’s budget yesterday, in which the Chancellor failed to address any of the issues facing adult social care, industry observers have once again come out in force to express their anger.
Danny Mortimer chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The Chancellor had a lot to prove in this Budget, but sadly he has once again left funding for health and social care services desperately wanting. NHS leaders will have hoped to see a much greater acknowledgement of the toll the past year has taken on our key public services, yet the health service will feel that it has been left out in the cold.
“The NHS has faced an unprecedented and almighty battle over the past year and has at times come very close to breaking point, so to continually under-resource and underfund both the health service and social care sector when they are facing the biggest challenge they have ever seen is of huge concern.
“Last year, the Chancellor promised ‘absolutely’ and ‘categorically’ to give the NHS ‘whatever resources’ it needed to get through the crisis; today, this promise seems to have evaporated and leaves the summer Spending Review with a lot of ground to cover.
“NHS leaders, including our members across primary care, will welcome the announcement of an additional £1.65 billion made available for the coronavirus vaccination programme, although details on what this means for frontline delivery will be crucial. We would do well to remember that this only forms a small part of a tangible recovery plan for the health service.
“While an additional £3 billion of funding to tackle the elective care backlog and wider pressures was announced in the autumn Spending Review, this fell far short of the £10 billion investment in the NHS recommended by the Health Foundation, and supported by our members, to deal with the impact of pressures and fall out from COVID-19 on our services.
“With this in mind, this Budget’s failure to address the crucial and long-term funding needs of the NHS weakens the contribution that our incredible, hardworking, yet exhausted health and care teams can deliver. It has also missed the real opportunity to go further and faster to address the significant and pressing investment needed to tackle the gaping holes in provision in capital, social care, in public health and in workforce training and education spending.
“The health service is still grappling with the immediate challenges of the pandemic, and we know that over the long-term, the implications and fallout from the COVID-19 crisis will be monumental and felt for years to come. A growing elective backlog of at least 4.5 million procedures, as well as record demand for mental health services and staff exhaustion mean we now urgently need to have an open and honest conversation about how and what the NHS can realistically deliver over the weeks, months and years ahead.”
Vic Rayner, Chief Executive of the National Care Forum, the leading member association for not-for-profit care providers says:
“There is nothing in this budget for social care. Nothing that acknowledges the massive financial challenges affecting social care provision. No recognition of the importance of investing in services that operate at a local level, employ local people and support the most vulnerable members of communities. Not even an acknowledgement of the incredible dedication and commitment of the social care workforce.
“The chancellor and his team must quickly address this. All ring fenced emergency funding for COVID-19 come to a grinding halt on the 31st March. Yet none of the costs associated with providing care in a COVID-19 world disappear. Urgent action is required to address these short term financial holes in the budget and the government must immediately outline the detailed timescale for the full scale reform of social care.
“Meanwhile, social care will take a deep breath once again and look hard at all the announcements around developing the workforce, apprenticeships and investing in technology, to see how they can be fully embraced by those receiving care and the workforce that supports them.”
Helen Wildbore, Director of the Relatives & Residents Association, said: “The Budget is an insult to older people needing care, and their families. Our helpline hears every day from people who are relying on these vital services who already feel neglected and left behind by the Government. The sector was already on its knees before the pandemic hit and now it is at crisis point. Following a year of unremitting challenges, with care services stretched to breaking point and staff burnt out, support from the Chancellor was desperately and urgently needed. Older people and their families deserve better.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK and Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance said:
“We are deeply disappointed that no immediate or longer term support for social care, so badly battered by the pandemic, was announced in the Budget. Experts have been warning about the sustainability of many smaller care companies for some time and unfortunately the Chancellor spurned this opportunity to give them a helping hand. The result may well be an upsurge in closures over the next few months, putting more stress and strain on older and disabled people & their unpaid carers, who have already endured so much.
“We and many others will also be seeking assurances that the lack of any mention of longer term care refinancing and reform does not reflect an intention on the part of this Government to renege on its repeated promise to ‘fix’ care by bringing forward concrete proposals later in the year. “
Chris Thomas, head of the Better Health and Care Programme at IPPR, said:
On Funding for the NHS
“Many will be shocked to see so little in the budget on the NHS and care during a pandemic. The chancellor has not given enough support to help the NHS through its massive backlog. He has not pre-empted an inevitable rise in Covid-19 this winter. And he has not helped prepare against the risks posed by future health shocks: pandemics, climate change, anti-microbial resistance and an ageing population. For a government committed to ‘build back better’, it is a dangerous lack of foresight.”
On Social Care
“Covid-19 has been devastating for social care services and for the people who rely on them. The chancellor’s budget today brings no relief – the sector was not even mentioned in the hour-long speech. We urgently need free personal social care at the point of delivery, based on need and funded through general taxation.”