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Sector Dismay to Chancellor’s Budget “Social care the Loser Once Again”

Social care providers have warned that a lack of extra funding for the sector in today’s budget will undermine efforts to help the NHS.

The provider organisation The Independent Care Group (ICG) had urged the Chancellor to improve funding to ease the crisis in the care of older and vulnerable adults.

But social care was not even mentioned when Jeremy Hunt delivered his budget this afternoon, leaving carers dismayed.

There was no support offered for social care was in the Spring Budget as chancellor Jeremy Hunt concentrated on tax cuts and providing more money for the NHS.

Measures announced included a 2p cut in National Insurance and a £3.4 billion fully funded NHS productivity plan focused on digital transformation, but there was no new money for social care.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Once again hundreds of thousands of people who currently can’t get care and the many thousands who work tirelessly delivering care, have been cruelly betrayed.

“Here was an opportunity to improve funding for social care, address the 1.6m people who can’t get care, the 152,000 staff vacancies and the ever-growing list of providers cutting back or exiting the market.

“But that opportunity was again ignored and the delivery of social care will be the loser once again.

“A lack of measures to help social care will undermine and potentially destroy the actions announced today to support the NHS as one cannot function properly without the other.

“Today there was an opportunity to be bold and go down as the Chancellor who acted on the crisis in social care and began the process of creating a National Care Service for the country. “Instead, the sector was ignored once again and the crisis will deepen, letting down thousands of older and vulnerable adults and damaging our ability to work hand in hand with the NHS to create cradle-to-the-grave help and support.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Care England, says:

“This year’s Spring Budget made it clear that the government has no intention to make good on its 5-year-old promise to ‘fix social care’. While financial support was given to the child social care system which was recognised as broken, no such lifeline was given to adult social care. Our sector continues to move ever closer to a cliff edge. We all want good quality care for our loved ones – now we need those in Government to care.”

The focus of the Spring Budget was on reducing personal taxation, despite consistent polling from Ipsos showing that healthcare is the primary issue that will decide the public’s vote at the next election – ahead of inflation and the wider economic situation.

The Chancellor confirmed a “landmark public sector productivity plan” which will create a more productive NHS. Whilst Care England welcomes this move, the relationship between health and social care has been overlooked. Investing in social care will allow people to have their needs met in the place they call home and reduce pressure on the NHS.

Following the Spring Budget, the adult social care sector will face another challenging year, on top of a situation where 43% of adult social care providers have closed services or handed back contracts to the Local Authority as a result of financial pressure, according to research from Care England and the national learning disability charity, Hft.

Professor Martin Green continues: “Adult social care is an essential service to the public. The cries of our sector have fallen on deaf ears. A stable adult social care system is vital to the health of the NHS, but this relationship is clearly not appreciated. Care services are vital to local economies and employment opportunities, but this has also been overlooked. This was the Government’s last chance saloon to deliver on its promise but with no long-term commitment to funding the system, the situation grows increasingly perilous.”

Vic Rayner, CEO of NCF said: “This budget is yet another demonstration of this government undermining its pledges to deliver adult social care reform. We are struck that we have gone from a position where there was a dedicated Health and Social Care Levy to “fix social care once and for all” in 2021, to one where National Insurance has been cut by 4p in the space of a year. There is very little regard to the long-term sustainability of public services in this budget and it is therefore disappointing but not unexpected that there are no new announcements for adult social care. The cost of delivering these pre-election tax cuts will constrain public spending for several years.

“It is clear the Chancellor has missed a key opportunity to address the huge funding pressures on local government and social care providers alike – these pressures are leading to multiple councils from across the political spectrum declaring bankruptcy due to the spiralling costs of social care. For the thousands of people who are waiting for assessments and care packages, this budget does nothing to improve the accessibility or availability of care. Additionally, for the organisations providing care and support, it does nothing to address the ongoing workforce and recruitment challenges.”

We are calling for the government to take a long-term, strategic approach to investment in adult social care as a key part of the nation’s infrastructure. Adult social care is a public service which unlocks economic growth, enables people to return to work, reduces demand on other public services and leads to more social cohesion.

Sam Monaghan, CEO of MHA said: “As expected, the Chancellor has failed to address the current crisis facing the social care sector during the Spring Budget.”

“Our ask is that, ahead of the next General Election, all political parties present a credible, sustainable plan that resolves the current gap between government funding and the cost of providing care. After decades of successive governments dodging this question, there are now nearly half a million people waiting just for a social care assessment. This cannot continue.”

“We also need to see a long-term strategy that tackles the estimated 152,000 staff vacancies in the sector and makes social care a stronger career choice for young people. This is why we’ve been calling on Government to commit to the creation of a Social Care Council, which would value the sector and act as an independent body examining issues such as pay scales, working hours and recruitment on an ongoing basis.”

“Solving current issues will require significant investment and any funding needs to be introduced in an affordable and manageable way. At the very least, we expect all political parties to understand and listen to the sector’s needs – and show their commitment to tackle challenges head on.”

Rebecca Young, Director of External Affairs at Revitalise said: As the incumbent Chancellor of the Exchequer delivers what could well be the Conservative Party’s final fiscal commitment before the country heads to polling booths, national charity Revitalise calls on all MPs to take heed of the critical state of affairs in the social care sector. In particular the significant fall in access to respite support.

As the leading provider of breaks and holidays for disabled people and their carers in the UK, Revitalise offers crucial respite care and safeguards against individuals with disabilities and their caregivers reaching breaking point.

Yet, years of austerity, the pandemic and the cost of living crisis has seemingly turned vital respite care into a luxury – with ONS Data reported by Channel 4 suggesting that of the 4.7 million unpaid carers in England, only one in 129 received respite funding. This is a 37% drop from 2015.

Today Hunt has emphasised the Conservative Party’s desire for better productivity and a higher quality of public services, mentioning also that it was one of ‘his great privileges to be Health Secretary’. Once again, however, we must strongly urge the Government to consider how we go about meeting the surging demand for social care services after more than a decade of slashing budgets and a failure to protect the most vulnerable in our society. As always, social care has been forgotten.

Our guests, their families and their peers speak of being abandoned by those with decision making powers. The current situation, as it stands, means carers are forced to breaking point before respite is offered.

It is essential that respite services are fully funded and protected. It is deeply concerning that successive governments have failed to address the enormous deficit in supply over demand in the social care sector and how we go about funding these services.

When Jeremy Hunt was Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, he said social care needed an extra £7bn a year just to stand still.