Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review has been described as a ‘catastrophe’ for the social care sector.
Addressing the House of Commons, the Chancellor said that local authorities access to an extra £1 million next year, however councils would be unlikely to be granted funds to increase social worker pay.
Describing ‘long-term scarring’ to the economy because of the pandemic, he said the UK was forecast to borrow a record £394bn this year, equivalent to 19% of gross domestic product.
However, representative groups have reacted angrily at the lack of funds made available for the social care sector.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum said: “ During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has consistently talked up the importance of social care, yet once again it has shown that it is unwilling to get behind the provision of services that are the lifeblood of people living independently within the community, or within residential care, or support services.
“The funding outlined in the review is completely and wholly inadequate – it can only lead to reductions in the provision of care. The government should be very aware that it’s decision today to ignore all the advice around minimum funding from the care sector, think tanks, Health and Social Care Select Committee and local government, is a fundamental step backwards. It has offered just £300 million of additional funding, to be split between adult and children’s care services, to a sector decimated by the catastrophic costs of providing care in COVID-19, a pandemic it entered whilst reeling from years of unfulfilled promises of reform and well documented underfunding
“The Chancellor’s statement today must not be the end of this – we urgently demand the government to strengthen their commitment to provide adequate funding both for the short-term spending review period and to urgently address reform.
“Millions of people are affected by the provision of social care, those who receive it, informal carers who rely on it, the 1.6 million people who work in it, local and national businesses who rely on the spending power of its workers, and the NHS whose primary and secondary care services are intricately woven within it. If that doesn’t feel like something that should be valued in a spending review purporting to be about what the people want, then I am at a loss to work out what is.
The small increase in the national living wage comes nowhere near the level of recognition we need for care workers – these are the same people that the government has clapped and praised and yet when the moment comes to recognise those staff, and help employers to reward those staff, the silence is resounding.
Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, says: “In light of the sector’s contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, Government must support and be responsive to the needs of the sector. Of course £1 billion is welcome, we welcome every penny, but in comparison with the NHS and the challenges that the sector faces, this figure is too little and too late. Unfortunately on previous occasions when the Government gave huge amounts of money to Local Authorities it did not reach the front line so we have grave concerns about the delivery mechanism”..
“Care England hopes that the Government makes good on its promise to bring forward proposals next year on its commitment to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system. This cannot wait any longer. If we thought 2020 was hard, unfortunately we have worse to come”.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK and co-Chair of the CSA (Care and Support Alliance) said:
“Today the Government passed up the opportunity to play fair with social care, instead granting it insufficient extra money to safeguard the current level of services through next year. Against the context of the pandemic, which is both driving up the level of need, and weakening the finances of providers, this is a decidedly reckless approach. Local authorities are once again being asked to square an impossible circle and this ungenerous settlement does very little to help the NHS either. However, it’s older and disabled people, and their families and carers, who will as ever pay the biggest price, with them more likely to have to manage without the support they need. This is a bitter pill to swallow, especially after everything social care has been through this year.
“The Spending Review documentation says that the Government will bring forward proposals on them longer term reform of care in 2021, but as a result of the decisions announced today social care will be even weaker by then than it is now. It’s hard not to conclude we’ve gone backwards.”
Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Council services have been critical in the fight against COVID-19, protecting the most vulnerable, supporting our local businesses and keeping the country running. It is good that today’s Spending Review provides a potential increase of 4.5 per cent in council core spending power to support these vital local services. However, this assumes council tax bills will rise by 5 per cent next year which will place a significant burden on households.
“It is good that the Chancellor has provided further funding for councils to manage the cost pressures they face as a result of the pandemic. New funding for adult and children’s social care will also help address some – but not all – of the pressures these services face next year. Councils will still have to find savings to already stretched budgets in order to plug funding gaps and meet their legal duty to set a balanced budget next year.
“As we look to build back better from the devastating social and economic impact of this crisis, this will be a blow to our communities and will hamper local and national recovery efforts.