Budget 2018: Extra £650m for social care a sticking plaster that 'only just staves off collapse', experts warn

'This is still far short of the £2.35bn that would be needed for social care to stand still in 2019/20,' social care heads warn

Alex Matthews-King
Health Correspondent
Monday 29 October 2018 19:21 GMT
Budget 2018: Philip Hammond reveals £650m for social care

Experts have criticised the government for again failing to tackle reform of care for the elderly with £650m in the Autumn Budget but no explanation of how it will be made sustainable longer term.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the funding for 2019/20 will be available to local authorities to support older people and adults with long term disabilities.

This is the area where underfunding has heaped pressure on the NHS as cuts have made it more likely people will get seriously ill, and harder to send them home after they are in hospital.

Experts said the funding would “only just stave off total collapse” as councils require £2.35bn next year to cope with care for the rise in older people with complex care needs amid shrinking budgets.

However the final Budget 2018 report makes clear that only £240m of the new money is earmarked for adults, and councils are free to spend around two-thirds of the funds (£410m) on children's care services.

Mr Hammond also warned there will be “difficult choices” on reforming social care longer term, but these will not not happen until the next spending review, as a Green Paper promised earlier this year has already been delayed once.

The chancellor said: “We will shortly publish our Green Paper on the future of social care, setting out the choices, some of them difficult – for making our social care system sustainable into the future.

“But I recognise the immediate pressures local authorities face in respect of social care.

“So today, building on the £240m for social care winter pressures announced earlier this month, I will make available a further £650m of grant funding for English authorities for 2019/20."

There was also £45m for facilities for people with disabilities, to help them live independently, and £84m for child social care.

The bulk of the health and social care funding announcement was made in the summer when Theresa May pledged a £20bn increase in funding for the NHS over the next five years. Of this, £2bn will be earmarked to improve young people's mental health and ensure crisis teams at every A&E, Mr Hammond said.

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said £650m may "prop up the broken social care system", but "only just staves off total collapse".

Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said it was “positive to see a step in the right direction” and the new money would help older and disabled people – as well as the NHS.

“However,” he added, “this is still far short of the £2.35bn that ADASS identified would be needed for social care to stand still in 2019/20; councils have been struggling with funding shortfalls for years.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the chancellor had delivered a “broken promises budget” which does nothing to address the damage of eight years of austerity. He warned that the country’s deficit had only been brought down at the expense of the NHS and other public services which now routinely report they will not meet their financial or performance targets.

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Chief executive of the NHS Confederation Niall Dickson said: “Social care remains the Achilles' heel – it has been consistently underfunded, neglected and unloved by politicians over many years and the extra funding announced today – again welcome – is clearly inadequate.

“What we needed was support to get the system back on its feet but what we have is yet another sticking plaster.

“This means we will struggle on for another year. We hope that the social care green paper is not further delayed: this has huge implications for both health and social care and most importantly for the people who need these crucial services.”

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