Spring Statement- “Social Care Remain as Challenging as Ever”

Chancellor Rishi Sundak’s Spring Budget has failed to address the pressures being faced by social care, say sector leaders.

The Chancellor reiterated the government’s commitment to the Health and Social Care Levy while raising the income threshold for National Insurance (NI) by £3,000 to £12,570 in July and cutting fuel duty by 5p, however sector bodies are calling for more targeted support.

Kari Gerstheimer, CEO and Founder, Access Social Care said:
Despite the Prime Minister’s promise to fix Social Care, this government and politicians of all stripes, have failed to address the decades old problem of social care workers being undervalued and underpaid. Now, with the cost of living rising more dramatically than it has in generations, care workers are leaving social care to take higher paid jobs in retail and hospitality.

The social care workforce crisis is so bad that there are parts of the country where it is impossible to recruit, social care services are operating with dangerously low staffing levels and families with loved ones are telling us they are close to collapse. All this is happening at a time when there is more demand for social care than ever before. The social care sector needed more targeted support. We expect to see an increase in safeguarding issues and hospital admissions as a direct result of the failure to address these pressures in this Spring Statement.

Vic Rayner OBE, CEO said:
“We welcome the announcement of the increase in the National Insurance (NI) threshold by £3,000, equalising it with the income tax threshold, which we hope will help many of those working in social care from July onwards. The 5p cut in fuel duty is also welcome and will also help both employees and employers, but is in no way sufficient to deal with the price increases that will fall particularly hard on domiciliary care provision.

“At this stage it is unclear what effect the change in NI thresholds will have on the overall amount of funding for health and social care raised through the NI levy. The amount of money going from the levy to support social care is already too low – at £5.4bn out of a previously estimated £36bn – and the government cannot allow any reduction in the total promised for social care as a result of this Statement.

“The pressures in social care as a result of COVID remain as challenging as ever and this Statement did not address them. With less than 8 days to go, the government has been completely silent on what 1st April and the assumptions about ‘living with COVID’ mean for those receiving care and support, their loved ones or the adult social care workforce. It is of grave concern that there was no recognition in the Spring Statement of the need to continue the Infection Control and Testing Fund, which provides financial support to help the sector navigate COVID. This comes to an end on 31 March, and yet all guidance continues to point to significant expectations around testing, infection control, isolation and the ongoing management of outbreaks within services. For social care this seems less about ‘living with covid’, and more about ‘living without a plan’.

“We call on the government for clarity now on the plans to ‘live with COVID’ in adult social care and for ongoing financial support for the sector in recognition that COVID has not gone away and the costs for managing infection prevention and control are very much still here.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said:
“We’re pleased our call to double the value of the Household Support Fund has been heeded but as that was the only announcement that helps older people on low and modest incomes – unless they are drivers – we don’t think the Chancellor has gone far enough today. Older people tell us that every time they go shopping the prices seem to have gone up again, and that’s really tough to manage if you’re reliant on a meagre Pension. Unfortunately, for older people like these, and younger ones on low incomes too, the next few months threaten to be extremely stressful, as they struggle to continue to make ends meet.”

Nick Sanderson, CEO, Audley Group said:
“The government has today recommitted to the levy on health and social care. There is no doubt that funding is needed. But we know that Treasury funds are stretched, and we also know there are other ways of improving the black hole that health and social care is experiencing. Housing is not mentioned in the same breath as health often enough. That must change. The newly announced government Housing with Care taskforce is an important step. It’s up to that taskforce to take action: creating the right conditions for increasing the units of specialist housing in this country that have care and wellbeing facilities attached. Taking that pressure from the NHS and social care systems when they most need it. And in return alleviating the pressure on the Treasury coffers.”

 

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