There was sector-wide disappointment in the first Budget from Chancellor Rishi Sunak as the promised solution for the social care crisis failed to materialise.
‘The coronavirus outbreak has understandably altered the government’s priorities for this Budget so the extra £5bn announced for the NHS, social care and other public services to support their response to the coronavirus is very welcome. As the situation develops the government will need to keep under review how much funding public services need.
‘The Budget also included an additional £6bn for the NHS to deliver on some of the government’s headline manifesto commitments. Chronic workforce shortages remain the single biggest issue currently facing the NHS and social care, yet the Budget was light on detail of how it would boost recruitment and retention, and support under pressure staff. The publication of a long-term, comprehensive NHS People Plan has been repeatedly delayed and held back to allow for today’s Budget commitments, so it is now essential to get this published as soon as possible.
‘The government made a manifesto commitment to extend healthy life expectancy and narrow health inequalities by 2035, yet local directors of public health are still waiting to find out know how much they will have to spend from next month. Following on from years of cuts to public health budgets, this begs the question of how seriously the government takes its commitment to improving people’s health.
‘Adult social care remains a pressing and overlooked issue and despite the Prime Minister’s election commitment to ‘fix it once and for all’ the pressures have only increased in recent months. It is hugely disappointing that this Budget does not include an emergency cash injection to help local government to address social care needs beyond coronavirus. In writing to MPs and Peers last week, the government has still not come forward with any proposals for long term reform of social care.’
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“We are dismayed that social care did not get even a mention in today’s Budget, after the Government’s promise to deliver a solution.
“As it is, families are under huge strain, with 600 people giving up work every day to care and many unpaid carers seeing their health and finances suffer. In the coming weeks, they will be taking extra precautions – stepping up beyond what they already do – to look after relatives and friends with underlying health conditions as the country deals with Coronavirus.
“In the short term, it is imperative that unpaid carers receive the support they need through the Government’s £500m hardship fund for local authorities to support vulnerable people. We are pleased the emergency response fund for public services to deal with Coronavirus includes helping local authorities who need social care support.
“The Chancellor said the Government is getting things done – not social care. Unpaid carers have been holding the system together for too long and they simply cannot afford to keep waiting for this promised plan.
“Until there is long-term investment in the system, and a proper plan, life will only become more difficult for the UK’s families.”
Laurence Geller CBE, Global Business Ambassador of the Alzheimer’s Society, Chancellor of the University of West London (UWL) with its institute for Dementia care and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Loveday&Co, commented:
“Providing quality social care is one of the great systemic challenges the UK faces and while today’s continued financial support for the NHS is welcome, the UK needs long-term solutions such as better training for dementia care workers. While Covid-19 threatens to become a pandemic, we all hope and are led to believe it will eventually pass and life will revert to normal, whereas dementia is already a global pandemic for which there is no cure even remotely on the horizon.
Making care a career through a proper skills accreditation scheme will improve social care staff retention, one of the major challenges we face as over 400,000 staff leave the industry each year. This Budget is a missed opportunity to fund such a vital programme. The Government needs to ensure we upskill the social and dementia care workforce so we can provide dignity to those suffering in their later life and support loved ones who all too often bear the burden of care.”
Whilst welcoming some measures in the budget, the Independent Care Group (ICG) says the Government has failed to get social care “done”.
They had hoped to see Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveil measures to help social care, especially as the sector looks likely to be hit hard by coronavirus. They argue that coronavirus is demonstrating the need for social care and NHS healthcare to work together and be funded equally.
The ICG says the Government now needs to press on with proposed cross-party talks and include providers in those talks, to hear the ideas they have for ending the social care crisis.
The Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham, said: “There was a lot to welcome in the budget: extra funding for the NHS, support for small businesses and a lot to help the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.
“But this was also an opportunity missed by the Chancellor and the Government to begin tackling the ongoing crisis in social care. Some 1.5m people aren’t getting the care they need and we have been promised measures now for years, but nothing is changing.
“There is little doubt that coronavirus is going to hit us hard and will exacerbate problems already being felt in the sector, but there was no recognition of that today. Support for NHS services is without doubt helpful, but without corresponding action to help social care it will be worthless. It is worth remembering that there are 410,000 people in residential care, almost three times the number of people in hospital beds.
“To be able to cope with coronavirus, support for the NHS has to be matched by support for social care – an argument we have been making for years.
“Sadly, in only promising to tackle social care “in the next few months”, the Government is failing in its pledge to tackle this crisis and get it done.”
The Group says the Government must now press on swiftly with proposed cross-party talks on social care.
“These talks cannot begin soon enough and we very much hope that care providers will be included in those talks as we are at the sharp end of care delivery and have many ideas and suggestions as to how the crisis can be tackled,” Mr Padgham added.
He has warned that the extra £1.5bn already pledged by the Government for social care won’t even touch the sides in terms of solving the crisis as it will be swallowed up by providers having to meet the increase in the National Minimum Wage.
He argues that the sector needs a proper pledge of extra money, funded by an increase in taxation or National Insurance. A state of the nation poll by the Daily Express recently found that 56% of people would be prepared to see an increase in taxation to pay for better social care.
“We have to be honest and say ‘if the country wants to be properly looked after then we have to pay for it’,” Mr Padgham added.
“I believe that if people know they are going to have a social care system that looks after them properly, they would be willing to pay a little more in taxation or NI payments. Invest in social care: give people a better life and save money for the NHS.”
“The substantial Coronavirus spending will be welcome. However, given the global nature of this disease, I had hoped to see some measures to relax the complex UK income tax, PAYE and National Insurance rules for those who are being repatriated to the UK to work from home on a temporary basis.
Gemma Hope, director of policy at Leonard Cheshire, said:
“The lack of action on social care constituted a serious omission from today’s budget announcement. The system is stretched to breaking point and many disabled people still don’t have the support to live as independently as they choose.
“Disabled people urgently need to see a clear plan on social care. This should include long-term funding that ensures access to high-quality care and support for people of all ages. If the government wants to honour its pledges on social care, it must build a fair system for all.”
Nick Sanderson, CEO, Audley Group, comments:
“It appears that the pre-election promises to focus on social care were empty ones. We can understand why, given the current crisis gripping the country, that the Chancellor has a lot to get to grips with, but it is still very disappointing to see so little on social care in the Budget – the silence was deafening. The growing crisis in the system should be one of the highest priorities for any government. The promised green paper has been endlessly delayed. Returning to the problem ‘in a couple of months’ needs to be a statement that the government acts on. This is not a subject that can be repeatedly kicked into the long grass. We need to be bringing together housing, health and social care as soon as possible to ease the pressure on the social care system by delaying, and even preventing, older people’s support needs.”
Commenting on the announcement by the Chancellor that he will give additional pensions tax relief to those earning up to £200,000, Gregg McClymont, director of policy at The People’s Pension and a former shadow pensions minister, said:
“Pensions tax relief needs reform and simplification. While we understand the need to support hard working senior doctors, the huge hike of the tax taper threshold by the Chancellor helps only a small, part of the working population – high earners – but does nothing for millions of basic rate taxpayers who could have benefited from comprehensive reform of pension tax relief rather than more tinkering.
“Two-thirds of the total tax relief paid out by the government already goes to higher rates taxpayers; a universal flat rate relief of 30 per cent would help those most in need to increase their retirement savings. A comprehensive review of this incredibly complicated system, under the remit of an independent Pensions Commission, could begin the process of reform.
“The Government’s announcement that they intend to review the ‘net pay anomaly’ – meaning that 1.7 million of the lowest earners miss out on tax relief due to a quirk – is a welcome step, but it needs to move quickly.”
“The Government has yet again missed an opportunity to recognise the enormity of the policy challenges which come from us living increasingly longer lives.”
“We are failing to maximise the economic potential of longer lives; we are failing to invest in preventing ill health; social care is in crisis; and we know pensioner poverty will start to increase.”
“We have no comprehensive plan of action to respond to the challenges of demographic change.”
“At the same time, we continue to fail to invest seriously to make the most of the potential social and economic opportunity of longevity.”
“The Coronavirus crisis highlights how we have been far too complacent about the impact of infectious diseases despite the fact a major pandemic has been increasingly likely.”
“In the short term there is an immediate need to invest to protect our most vulnerable citizens and ensure our health care system can cope. We very much welcome the Government commitment to ensure the NHS will have the funding it needs.”
“But over the next few years we need to significantly push more health spending towards the prevention of ill health. Investing in the prevention of ill health will result in fewer vulnerable people when the next crisis happens. It is also key to help the Government achieve its ambitious goal of ensuring people can enjoy at least 5 extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035.”
“Longevity could offer a huge economic return for UK PLC. By 2040, over-50s could be spending 63p in every pound. And supporting people to spend or work for longer could add 2% to UK GDP every year.”
“Yet the cost of lost productivity as a result of largely preventable diseases already exceeds £500 billion in better off countries every year.”
“We won’t deliver an economic longevity dividend without investing in health systems.”
“The lack of commitments on adult social care are a real concern. The system is already in crisis. A commitment to cross party talks on the funding of social care may be welcome, but it must not kick spending decisions into the long grass again. Inaction and delay by successive Governments have created a crisis which requires an urgent solution.”
Responding to the announcement in the Budget that the threshold for the annual allowance taper in the NHS Pension Scheme will be raised, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said:
“Employers across the NHS will welcome this significant step in reforming pensions taxation.
“The overwhelming majority of NHS employees will no longer face the uncertainty and distress of the application of the annual allowance taper based on additional NHS earnings. This importantly provides certainty for them. Employers will also hope that this announcement reassures clinical colleagues so that they can agree to undertake additional work without the perverse consequences that have resulted in recent years.
“The change in the taper will also benefit a wider range of employees, and this is also very welcome.”