Queens Speech- Government Gives Social Care Pledge Of £1bn A Year For Next Five Years

The government has pledged an extra £1bn each year for the next 5 years for adult social care.

In the Queens speech today (December 19) the government said it will also “urgently” seek a cross-party consensus on long-term social care reform in England, which is a devolved matter. Speaking in the House of Lords today, the Queen said ministers would ‘seek cross-party consensus for long-term reform of social care,’ adding: ‘They will ensure that the social care system provides everyone with the dignity and security they deserve and that no one who needs care has to sell their home to pay for it.’

On the NHS, the government says it will enshrine in law a commitment on the health service’s funding, with an extra £33.9bn per year provided by 2023/24.

The PM’s commitment on the NHS amounts to a 3.4% year-on-year increase in expenditure, a significant increase on what the NHS received during the five year Tory-Lib Dem coalition government as well as under his predecessors David Cameron and Theresa May.

Responding to the announcement Morgan Vine, campaigns manager at Independent Age, said: “The commitment in the Queen’s Speech to reform adult social care is welcome, but further detail is urgently required. The new government has a clear working majority which gives it the ability to make significant improvements to the social care system. Tangible solutions have already been put forward, including the introduction of free personal care.

“Cross-party consensus would reduce the risk of proposals failing to be implemented, but this can only be achieved if the plans themselves are fully comprehensive. The government must as a matter of urgency outline the decisive action it will take to improve the social care system. Older people and their families have waited more than 20 years to see the reform of social care in England. With every year that passes, increasing numbers of older people are going without the support they need, or are facing huge costs to access essential care services.

“It is clear from the new VISA proposals that the government has prioritised the need for more healthcare workers in the NHS. The social care system also has a workforce shortage. Without addressing this issue across both sectors, older people and their families will not get the care they need when they need it. It’s vital that the government quickly announces a long-term funding proposal and an appropriate workforce strategy. Independent Age believes that free personal care for older people must be part of that solution.”

UKHCA spokesperson said: “The lack of concrete proposals from Government for the long term funding of Social Care in today’s Queen’s Speech and a simplistic view of protecting housing assets is immensely disappointing.

“At least 10 million people are receiving or need to receive support and care in their own homes from both informal and formal carers, compared with fewer than 0.5 million in care homes, of which less than half pay for their own care.

The majority needing support and care at home must be considered as well as those paying for care homes, particularly as adequate investment in homecare will relieve pressure on the NHS.

“A cross-party consensus is urgently needed, but Government has yet again failed to address the reality of state-funded social care.”

Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund said:

‘Additional NHS investment is welcome and will help to start to stabilise NHS services, but it is not a funding bonanza: by historic standards the amount promised is, in real terms, below the long-term average in NHS spending, and it also doesn’t represent a comprehensive funding plan that includes workforce training, capital funding, or public health.

‘The government must be honest with the public: as well as additional funding, a credible plan to increase the workforce is also urgently needed. Even then, it will take time to bring down waiting times and patients will unfortunately continue to wait longer to receive the care that they need.

‘The new NHS Visa is a welcome but limited response to the need to recruit international staff to meet pressing workforce shortages. Health workers coming to the UK will still need to pay the Immigration Surcharge, which is set to increase to £625 per person every year, on top of the £464 they will still have to pay for a visa. This also does nothing to address staff shortages in social care.

‘We welcome the government’s commitment to bring forward draft legislation to support the implementation of the NHS long-term plan. This should be based on the targeted proposals NHS England have developed to make it easier for NHS organisations to collaborate with each other and their local partners to improve services for patients.

‘The additional £1 billion a year to give a short-term boost to social care services for both adults and children is not enough to meet rising demand for care while maintaining quality and accessibility of services. The Prime Minister is right to reach across party lines by seeking a cross-party consensus on social care reform but needs to honour his promise to ‘fix the social care crisis once and for all’ by bringing forward meaningful proposals for reform.’