Care groups slam Boris Johnson’s rescue plan as local councils are left in the dark on funding

PM ducks questions about how much of billions from his National Insurance hike will go to town halls

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
,Adam Forrest
Tuesday 07 September 2021 17:24
Boris Johnson announces rise in National Insurance to fund social care.mp4

Care organisations have attacked Boris Johnson’s rescue plan, as he refused to say whether local councils will receive the funding boost they desperately need.

Twice, in the Commons, the prime minister ducked questions about how much of the £36bn to be raised from his National Insurance hike will flow to town halls – who provide social care.

Over three years, the NHS will receive around £25bn and the devolved governments £6bn, leaving only £5.4bn to be spent on social care by 2025.

But that cash is to fund the new £86,000 cap on anyone’s lifetime care bills, enabling wealthy homeowners to pass on their properties to their children – leaving councils in the dark.

Phillip Anderson, head of policy at the MS Society, supporting people with multiple sclerosis, said: “Sadly, today’s announcement has not been worth the wait.

The plan for a care cap was “welcome”, but overlooked 1.6 million people “with unmet care needs, including one in three people affected by MS”.

“It is also very difficult to see how this funding could tackle huge issues such as quality of care, workforce, and informal carer support, without taking much-needed funds back out of the NHS,” Mr Anderson warned.

Edel Harris, chief executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said: “Today’s announcement won’t be enough to fix the crisis that is happening right now.

“People who need care are missing out, others are having their support cut and some are being asked to pay towards their care which they simply can’t afford.”

And Richard Kramer, chief executive of the disability charity Sense, said: “Once again, the social care system is treated as the ‘Cinderella’ service to the NHS.

“Will the money really find its way back into social care after 2025? We need a commitment from government that this money will be ring-fenced, or we will never find our way out of this crisis.”

Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, described Mr Johnson’s announcement as a “damp squib” and said he feared the extra funding would get swallowed up by the NHS.

“It’s not clear how the money is going to be ring-fenced for adult social care so it gets to local authorities on the frontline,” he told The Independent. “The majority of the money is going to the NHS, so we’re worried social care is going to be playing second fiddle and get the leftovers.”

“The cap and the floor is good, but what about pay in the sector? The government couldn’t be more out of touch about what we’re facing. There is nothing in the plan to address the staffing crisis. We desperately need to boost pay in the social care sector so we can recruit more people.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said the government had to guarantee extra funding for frontline providers of social care. “The NHS is being given extra funding upfront and social care desperately needs that too,” she said.

“Unless the chancellor delivers substantially more investment into councils’ budgets in the autumn spending review there’s a real risk that the prime minister’s announcement will fall flat.”

The Alzheimer’s Society praised Mr Johnson’s “historic” commitment to finally ending the decades-long social care crisis, on which MPs will vote on Wednesday.

But, said director of research Fiona Carragher: “The government must ensure a fair and sustainable system of social care which provides the very best quality care and support now and in the future.”

The published document for the strategy, entitled ‘Our plan for health and social care’ reveals that councils will have to wait until “later in the autumn” to discover what they will receive.

In the Commons, the prime minister was asked: “When will the money go to local authorities?”, but declined to say, answering: “It’s all in the plan.”

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