The secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock has announced funding for social care totalling £240m.
The money is intended to help reduce delayed transfers of care and will be allocated to councils based on the adult social care relative needs formula.
The sector has responded to this announcement, with many welcoming the funding for social care but saying that it is not a long-term solution.
The Conservatives said the cash boost for councils would allow local authorities to buy more than 71,500 domestic care packages or more than 86,000 so-called “reablement” packages – a short-term form of intervention designed to support a care user’s independence.
However shadow Social Care Minister Barbara Keeley said: “There is a severe crisis in social care caused by eight years of Tory austerity and tinkering at the edges like this is not going to solve it.”
“Labour will rebuild social care services, starting with an extra £8bn across a parliament to start to ease the crisis, to lift care quality and ensure more people get the support they need.”
Ian Hudspeth of the Local Government Association – which acts as the umbrella group for councils – welcomed the “desperately needed” extra funding.
But he warned: “Councils and providers cannot simply turn services on and off as funding ebbs and flows.
“Putting in place the right services and workforce requires forward planning and longer-term contracts.”
The LGA warned earlier this year that adult social care services face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025 just to maintain existing standards of care
Commenting on the announcement, George McNamara, Director of Policy at Independent Age said, ‘The social care budget has been cut by the equivalent of over £2m a day since 2010, so this announcement simply rolls back cuts over the past four months. This announcement is a headline-grabbing gesture, but in reality it is woefully inadequate to address the long-term funding crisis in social care. Introducing free personal care for all older people in England is not only the best way to tackle this finding crisis, but it would also mean that many older people would get the care packages they need earlier, avoiding the need to go into hospital.
‘The government needs to face up to its responsibility to millions of older people and their families and put in place provision for free personal care, supported by sustainable funding, that will allow local authorities and providers to put in place a skilled workforce and high-quality services that meet demand for care services now and in the future.’
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“The LGA has been at the forefront of efforts to highlight the significant pressures facing adult social care and secure funding for the system. We are pleased that the Government has acted by providing an injection of desperately-needed funding to help tackle winter pressures.
“Councils successfully used extra social care funding from the Government last year to reduce delayed transfer of care days attributable to social care by 37 per cent since July and alleviate some of the pressure on the NHS. This has proved that there cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable social care system.
“However, short-term bailouts are not the answer. Councils and providers cannot simply turn services on and off as funding ebbs and flows. Putting in place the right services and workforce requires forward planning and longer term contracts. Adult social care services still face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care.
“We must find a long-term funding solution for adult social care and support, and that is why the LGA recently launched its own social care green paper to drive forward the public debate on what sort of care and support we need to improve people’s wellbeing and independence, the need to focus on prevention work, and, crucially, how we fund these vital services.”
“The Government must use its own upcoming adult social care green paper to address the fundamental problems facing adult social care and ensure full and sustainable funding so that people will always have access to quality and reliable care and support that helps them live independent, dignified lives.”
The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) says the funding for social care is welcome, but we need a sustainable financial settlement. The group is also emphasising that new investment must work for everyone who relies on social care services. VODG Chief Executive, Dr Rhidian Hughes said, ‘Money to support the system this winter is welcome. But social care urgently requires a lasting, year round, financial settlement that works for all. The forthcoming Autumn Budget offers Government the opportunity to identify a long-term and sustainable funding solution for adult social care that covers both working age disabled adults and older people. People who rely on essential care services deserve nothing less.’
Glen Garrod, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said, ‘This funding is welcome. It recognises that adult social care has a significant role to play in supporting the NHS during the winter – most notably hospitals. As a sector, adult care has made great progress in reducing unnecessary delays, discharging people safely from hospital and it’s positive that this is acknowledged by the Government.
‘However, we must also look to what is happening in the community if we are to achieve more. This will help relieve pressure on A&E departments, as we reduce the numbers of people going to hospital because of gaps in community support.
‘This funding can only be a temporary and partial ‘fix’ – we need to go much further, much faster, if we are to truly support people in the community. This can only be achieved with greater co-ordination between health, social care and housing services and through a long-term settlement for adult social care.
‘Ensuring social care is sustainably funded is important for all of us – whether it’s our grandparents who need support to live in their communities or specialist care for adults with learning disabilities, it’s crucial as a society we offer personalised care, which takes the individual being supported as it’s starting point. We look forward to seeing more in the upcoming green paper about how a long-term funding settlement will do this.’