Industry leaders have given a positive response to Chancellor Philip Hammonds budget. Whilst overwhelmingly welcoming the announcement of an additional £2bn social care funding concerns were raised about the planned cuts to the Employment and Support allowance and the burden working Carer’s face juggling looking after elderly relatives and balancing work. Industry leaders and organisations said:
Hft is disappointed at plans unveiled in Philip Hammond’s “final” Spring Budget. Despite recent comments in the media suggesting that the Chancellor would offer a decisive solution to the ongoing social care funding crisis, we were frustrated to instead see more government procrastination on this important issue.
In his Spring Budget, the Chancellor pledged an additional £2billion of funding for the social care sector over the next three years. By the Chancellor’s own admission, this funding was to act as a “bridge” before the Better Care Fund came online in 2018. Hft has long argued that the Better Care Fund, which is designed to cover both the Health and Social Care sector, is simply not enough to plug the funding gaps in both sectors. Similarly, this cash injection of £2billion over three years will be a drop in the ocean compared to the estimated £4.5billion the Health Select Committee recently claimed was needed.
Many private enterprises both inside and outside the social care sector will welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that Corporation Tax will fall to 17% by 2020, however for organisations such as Hft this will not offer any relief from our ongoing financial pressures. Unlike our for-profit counterparts, Hft is a charity, and is therefore exempt from paying Corporation Tax. Instead we invest any financial surpluses back in to our services and other charitable projects.
The announcement of a Green Paper set to comprehensively review social care funding is to be welcomed. However, Hft is concerned that a lengthy consultation will simply delay essential funding reform that the sector urgently needs. Ahead of the budget, Hft warned that, according to our research, three quarters of the learning disability sector will be running at a deficit by the end of this government. 55% of those surveyed claimed that they would be running at a deficit “within the next two years”. Our concern is that, for the majority of those in the learning disabilities sector, the conclusions of the planned Green Paper will simply come too late.
Outside of social care funding, Hft also noted that, for all his talk of creating an “inclusive economy”, there was no mention of the Government’s recent Improving Lives green paper, or indeed any mentions of ways in which people with learning disabilities will be included in this “inclusive growth”, or how the government plans to assist people into meaningful supported employment opportunities.
Mr. Hammond’s announcements come against the backdrop of revelations from BBC Surrey, which last night broadcast leaked tapes of the leader of Surrey County Council describing a “gentleman’s agreement” between Surrey County Council and the Government. The funding of vital social care services should be above politics. Hft therefore welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s call for the Prime Minister to “place in the Library of the House a record of all one-to-one meetings between the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Chancellor and any council leader or chair of social services anywhere in England”.
Whilst Hft will of course respond to the Green Paper consultation, and continue to enter into meaningful conversations with ministries and local authorities, this Spring Budget offers too little too late for a sector that even CQC recognises is now at a “financial tipping point”.
“The additional £2bn funding for social care is welcome. The challenge now is how to use this investment to deliver sustainable transformation. Evidence that SCIE is gathering indicates that by using all the resources and assets available – including the NHS, local authorities, voluntary, community and family support – and integrating them around the person, we can make a real difference. This is by no means easy and requires all of us to think differently about our roles and responsibilities to ensure high quality care and support.”
Caroline Hope, lead social care partner at Deloitte, comments on the Spring Budget:
“Action at the frontline where an elderly patient comes into A&E is clearly a sensible way forward. A green paper later this year could go some way to facing up to the pressures that exponential growth of the over 75s is putting on health services.
“One of the biggest pinch points is at A&E, so the money for GP triage is good news. However it will be very important to track the results and share best practice so everyone is better prepared for an even tougher future.
“Beyond stumping up the cash, we also need to think differently about the people we are trying to serve. Understanding people’s lives outside the hospital may provide breakthrough insight into how care can be designed differently.”
“It is a welcome sign that the Chancellor has recognised the current critical pressure that social care is under, by allocating another £1 billion to social care in the next financial year and a further £1 billion over the following 2 years. Social care services are vital to families who have been under increasing pressure to care for their disabled and older relatives. This has significant costs and consequences for carers, their families and the economy. Carers UK’s research shows around 2 million people have given up work to care for relatives. For one in three carers providing substantial care, their decision to give up work was due to a lack of affordable quality social care.
Without this new funding, we feared that many more carers would have found themselves giving up work to care, many would have seen their health worsen, their relationships break down as they have less time for others, and families would end up in lasting poverty.
This welcome funding announcement is by no means the end to the continuing problem of inadequate social care funding. We are pleased that the Government will be bringing out a Green Paper on the future of social care looking at medium and longer term funding for social care services. The Government must develop, secure and implement a robust and sustainable funding solution for care which provides a fairer deal for families. With an ageing population, this must be done in a timely way, or social care will continue to remain in crisis.”
However, there was nothing in the Budget to ease financial pressures on carers and no reversal of planned cuts to Employment and Support Allowance, which mean those in the work-related activity group stand to lose £30 a week.
We were also hoping to see several other measures in the 2017 Budget that would support carers to improve their health and well-being, increase their opportunities to learn and to recognise their skills, and enhance their ability to juggle work and continue caring. The forthcoming cross-Government Carers Strategy due to be published in Spring is an opportunity the Government must take to improve the lives of carers.”
Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said: “The additional money announced today is welcome recognition of the huge pressures facing social care. It will provide some short-term relief for older and disabled people, families and carers who are being let down by the current system.
“The plan to publish a green paper on the future of social care funding is encouraging, but we have been here before. This time, the government must break the mould and deliver the radical reforms that are so badly needed.
“A starting point for this should be the report of the Barker Commission, which recommends a new settlement for health and social care and a single budget to put them both on a sustainable footing for the future. This will need to be funded by reforms to existing benefits paid to older people, increases in national insurance and changes to taxation.
“Our recent report highlighted lack of capital funding as a significant barrier to the success of STPs so on the face of it the decision to make money available to invest in the most promising plans is a step in the right direction.
“This winter the NHS has been buckling under the strain of meeting rising demand for services and maintaining standards of care. The Chancellor must address this in his autumn Budget or be honest with the public about the standards of care they can expect with the funding the NHS has been given.”
Mike Padgham of the Independent Care Group said” We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of £2bn over the next three years towards social care but warned that efforts had to be made to ensure it reaches the front line of care delivery.
“If it is indeed extra new funding then this £2bn – £1bn of which is for this coming year – is a welcome move,” he said. “The important thing is to ensure that it gets to people who are not getting the care they need and to care workers and providers on the front line and doesn’t get lost in NHS and local authority bureaucracy.
“It is a start – it won’t meet the gap forecast in social care funding and it isn’t the root and branch reform that will see social care and NHS care merged into one department, which is what a lot of commentators want to see – but it is a step in the right direction.
“Whilst the green paper shows the Government is taking the future funding of social care seriously, I have said many times before that we don’t need any further documents, discussions and investigations. We know that better funding and the merger of the NHS and social care is what is needed now and not some time off in the future,” he added.
Separately, Mr Padgham has written to the Prime Minister inviting her to visit North Yorkshire to see how the social care crisis is affecting the care of older and vulnerable adults.
In his letter he said: “Social care delivery is in the eye of a perfect storm: rapidly rising demand for more and more complex care; less and less funding; increasing regulation and a growing difficulty to recruit and retain nursing and care staff.
“We are seeing care homes closing – here on my doorstep in North Yorkshire we have just seen the closure of a home near Whitby, and the 28 residents, many of whom have dementia, forced to move. And I heard only the other day of a husband and wife forced to live miles apart because no care can be found for him close to her.
“In short, we are seeing vulnerable people going without care or having their care disrupted and their quality of life harmed. Age UK says 1.2m people aged over 65 – about one in eight – now live with an unmet care need, 48% more than in 2010, after £160m was cut from older people’s social care since that year. My biggest fear is that we will very soon run out of capacity, particularly to provide care to those who cannot fund the care themselves.”
He echoed the words of Age UK who recently warned that social care was in danger of collapse this year and said he had written to the Prime Minister because she had promised since the day she was elected to fight injustice.
“What greater injustice can there be than the current treatment of our oldest and most vulnerable adults?” he added. “These aren’t numbers on a spreadsheet, these are people who deserve to enjoy a good quality of life with independence and dignity and in a place that is safe, comfortable and familiar.”
A study also recently suggested that an increase of 30,000 deaths in 2015 could be linked to cuts in health and social care budgets.
“My concern is for the welfare of those residents at Hawkesgarth Lodge near Whitby and their families and all the others across the country who are, or will be, facing the same situation,” Mr Padgham added. “I have every sympathy for the operators of the home and the reasons they give – that they can no longer recruit staff – is a very familiar one across the sector.”