Care England has appealed for the care sector to be properly recognised in the forthcoming Spring Budget, not only due to its immense intrinsic value but also in terms of its fundamental role in supporting the functioning of the National Health Service and wider UK economy.
Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, says:
“The adult social care sector is comprised of a diverse range of charitable and independent services that deliver support, care, and healthcare for some of society’s most vulnerable individuals. The sector’s contribution to both society and the economy is immeasurable, as well as critical to the effectiveness of the NHS. The Treasury must recognise the economic value of the adult social care sector and, use the forthcoming Spring Budget to put measures in place that ensure the longevity and sustainability of care. Whilst the Autumn Statement injected a welcome £7.5bn into the sector over the next two years, it is insufficient to truly stabilise the sector, support 200,000 new packages of care, support both adults and children and hospital discharges. When factors such as demography and inflation are taken into account, which the LGA put at around £2bn per annum, on top of a significant deficit and years of underfunded inflation, it is evident that £7.5bn is not enough. Care England’s analysis of the average fees paid by local authorities and the recent Government led Fair Cost of Care exercise has revealed that local authorities are continuing to underfund packages of care to the tune of over £2bn per year. The sector requires continued and increased investment in frontline social care services by the Government, in addition to the inward investment the sector generates, to ensure a sustainable system fit for the 21st century. This will give taxpayers value for money and empower those in need of care, and their families, to make meaningful choices so they receive the right care at the right place at the right time.”
Care England has made the following representations for the 2023 Spring Budget:
• Zero-rate VAT for Welfare Services to enable care providers to recover input VAT
• Provide enhanced support for energy costs and remove the 5% VAT surcharge and Climate change Levy on energy bills
• Make the £130m EBSS AF payments directly to social care providers, not those in receipt of care who are not directly responsible for paying energy bills
• Establish a national tariff of £1,500 per week to be imposed for a specified period and clear care needs specifications to aid hospital discharges
• Actualise a fully funded 10-year workforce vision, as set out in the People at the Heart of Care white paper
• Introduce a Government-developed pay framework to establish a minimum care wage, above the level of the NLW and tied to NHS band 3.
• Increase the number of VISA allocations given to care providers, at a reduced cost to aid in lowering the number of vacancies within the care sector
• Confirm what will happen to the minimum salary set for care workers entering the UK via the Shortage Occupation List route (previously set above the NLW), once the NLW rises to £10.42 from 1 April 2023
• Allow care works to work full-time hours without losing access to benefits
Martin Green continues:
“Care England’s budget representation offers pragmatic solutions that would inject much-needed funding to frontline services and help to stabilise the adult social care sector. We must move to a period of strategic reform informed by collaboration with the sector to prevent the situation from deteriorating further as pressures continue to mount. The money tabled in the Autumn Statement has thus far represented a series of short-term and inadequate injections to help fund struggling councils or to temporarily prop up the NHS facing winter pressures when it should have been used to address the deep-rooted problems within the current system. Consolidated data trends for care homes indicate occupancy has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels and EDITDARM margins fell to a low of 22.7% last year, with decreasing profitability being driven by staff and rising utility costs. The sector is brimming with innovation, energy, and commitment. We must overcome the political impetus that social care has been ‘reformed,’
‘solved,’ or ‘fixed’. Unfortunately, we are a long way from this reality and the funding made available is not sufficient to address the recent and future impact of inflation and will only compound the challenges faced by the sector if Government continues to ignore the warning signs.”