The Chancellor's Budget has failed to mention social care, leaving the sector confused and frustrated.
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, spoke to the House of Commons today detailing his plans for the next year. However, various calls for action made by sector organisations in recent weeks went ignored, with no support offered to adult social care.
Coronavirus was a theme throughout, with emphasis given on the difficulties it could cause for the NHS and the importance of investment in research. The National Institute for Health Research was given £30m of new funding to enable rapid research into the disease. An initial £5bn will also be available to 'fund pressures in the NHS, support local authorities to manage pressures on social care and support vulnerable people, and help deal with pressures on other public services' caused by coronavirus.
The NHS received £6bn to pay for 'vital services' but the budget failed to mention social care here again, with no indication that any of these funds should be used to support the social care sector.
The Budget has confirmed that the £1bn of additional funding for social care next year, which was announced at the Spending Round in 2019, will continue for every year of this Parliament. However, this will not be enough to meet funding shortfalls, and the Chancellor's only mention of social care in parliament was to say it would be dealt with in 'the next few months'.
The sector has already begun to respond to the lack of announcement. Independent Care Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham, said, 'There was a lot to welcome in the Budget: extra funding for the NHS, support for small businesses and a lot to help the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.
'But this was also, an opportunity missed by the Chancellor and the Government to begin tackling the ongoing crisis in social care...
'There is little doubt that coronavirus is going to hit us hard and will exacerbate problems already being felt in the sector, but there was no recognition of that today. Support for NHS services is, without doubt, helpful, but without corresponding action to help social care, it will be worthless. It is worth remembering that there are 410,000 people in residential care, almost three times the number of people in hospital beds.
'To be able to cope with coronavirus, support for the NHS has to be matched by support for social care – an argument we have been making for years.
'Sadly, in only promising to tackle social care 'in the next few months', the Government is failing in its pledge to tackle this crisis and 'get it done.'
Meanwhile, Gemma Hope, Director of Policy at Leonard Cheshire, said, 'The lack of action on social care constituted a serious omission from today’s budget announcement. The system is stretched to breaking point and many disabled people still don’t have the support to live as independently as they choose.
'Disabled people urgently need to see a clear plan on social care. This should include long-term funding that ensures access to high-quality care and support for people of all ages. If the government wants to honour its pledges on social care, it must build a fair system for all.'
Carers UK have also expressed concern; Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said, 'We are dismayed that social care did not get even a mention in today’s Budget, after the Government’s promise to deliver a solution.
'...The Chancellor said the Government is getting things done – not social care. Unpaid carers have been holding the system together for too long and they simply cannot afford to keep waiting for this promised plan.'