Despite record investment in the 2022 Autumn Budget, the social care sector is buckling at the knees. Care England’s Spring Budget representation outlines a series of pragmatic asks that can be introduced immediately with no additional expense to the taxpayer and sets out long-term solutions to address systematic issues facing social care.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says: “Our Sector Pulse Check report with Hft put the writing on the wall. It’s time for the Government to take note. With Government funding last year not making a difference to the sustainability of 84% of care providers in England, we can’t continue with more of the same. The Government has given the sector more money than ever before, but the sector has not been able to benefit as it should have. We need to impose a new reality. The sustainability of the sector is compromised. This may well be the last chance for this Government to demonstrate their commitment to fixing social care.”
Recently, the National Audit Office report, Reforming Adult Social Care in England, found significant inadequacies in the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) delivery of reform plans. The DHSC has scaled back its short-term plans for system reform and associated funding to £729 million, compared with the £1.74 billion agreed with HM Treasury in 2021. This is equivalent to a 58% fall in the budget for social care reform and comes in the face of an ageing population with an increasing need for care.
Care England and the national learning disability charity Hft published the 2023 Sector Pulse Check in January which found that the Government’s ‘record investment’ is simply not reaching providers, with 84% stating that financial initiatives from government – such as the Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund and International Recruitment Fund – made no difference to their financial sustainability. The 2023 Sector Pulse Check report can be found here.
A strong social care should be the backbone of a society, and of an economy, and in its current state, social care is set to break under the strain.
In the short-term, Care England’s Spring Budget submission calls on the Government to zero-rate VAT for welfare services, better standardise commissioning practice to reduce complexities and inefficiencies in the system, introduce an annual fee uplift deadline of 31 March to bolster financial fore planning, and streamline funding at a Local Authority level for social care providers.
On a long-term basis, Care England encourages the Government to close the Fair Cost of Care gap and repeat the exercise at a sector-wide level, better ringfence Government funds for adult social care, introduce a government-funded £15 minimum wage for care staff and move towards a long-term vision for social care funding settlements.
Professor Martin Green continues: “Intervention from the Government must be immediate and substantial. Almost half of care providers have had to close a part of their organisation or hand back contracts to their Local Authority as a result of the cost pressures they find themselves operating against. Adult social care is an economic powerhouse. Research has found that for every £1 invested in social care, £1.75 is generated in the wider economy. Our sector is crucial to the financial and physical health of the nation, and unless the Government acts now, we won’t have a social care fit for the future.”