The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called for social care to be prioritised, saying that the scale of tax cuts being proposed by some MPs would cost the public purse at least £10bn – and come at the expense of vital social care services.
Speaking at the NHS Confederation Annual Conference, the Mayor said, 'How we pay for and provide social care is one of the greatest unresolved challenges our country faces.
'It has to be one of the top domestic priorities facing any new Prime Minister. Any candidate promising tax cuts on such a large scale – before fixing social care – is revealing that they would have the wrong priorities as Prime Minister. Giving the wartime generation the dignity they deserve must come before any tax giveaways.
'Let me be clear – tax cuts on this scale will leave no money for social care.'
Andy Burnham also spoke about insurance-style schemes for social care, suggesting that this is not the right solution. He said that enshrining health and social care in separate funding systems will prevent their full integration, and argued that real progress is being made within Greater Manchester’s integrated health and social care services, despite facing a recurrent funding shortfall of £116m by 2020-21.
The Mayor highlighted the progress that Greater Manchester has made, stating, 'Even within the constraints of the current funding system, Greater Manchester has been able to show what is possible through place-based integration.
'Our Living Well At Home programme is delivering real progress. As part of our drive to improve support at home, we are eliminating 15-minute personal care visits.
'In Greater Manchester, the time allocated to visits now matches the needs of the person – and 15-minute visits are only ever commissioned at the person’s specific request, or as part of a larger package of care such as medication administration.
'This means that in some parts of Greater Manchester, 15-minute personal care visits now represent just 0.01% of weekly hours.
'The number of good or outstanding care homes and home care agencies also continues to rise in Greater Manchester – improving at a faster rate than England and the North West.”'
Responding to Andy Burnham’s comments about social care at Confed19, Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation said, 'Andy Burnham is absolutely right that it is a travesty that so many people are left to struggle because of an underfunded social care system and we welcome his intervention. Record numbers of people and their families have been left struggling without the basic care and support they need.
'This is the greatest social challenge of our time and the next Prime Minister simply must not duck this burning injustice.
'Recent polling by ComRes, which we commissioned, revealed 76% of MPs agree there is a crisis in social care with three in five saying cuts to the service have left people in their constituencies suffering.
'Health and social care are two sides of the same coin and integrating care, such as the excellent work going on in Greater Manchester, is vital to solving this crisis but, as Mr Burnham says, it cannot be achieved without investment which must start with the spending review later in the year.
'The effect on the NHS is profound too – our survey of front-line NHS leaders...revealed nine in 10 of them are not confident the NHS will be able to deliver the reforms set out in the NHS Long Term Plan without a long-term financial settlement for social care. That is why we set up Health for Care, an alliance of 15 national representative health organisations which is making the case for a sustainable future for adult social care in England, backed-up by a long-term funding settlement.'