Wednesday 25th November saw the announcement of the Government’s one-year Comprehensive Spending Review. The social care sector has responded to this announcement with disappointment.
The review's promises included £3bn for the NHS, a £300m Social Care Grant, £254m for homelessness and a £4.3bn commitment to tackle the impending jobs crisis.
In the Chancellor's one-year Spending Review, he promised the following for adult social care:
- Local authorities will be able to increase their Council Tax bills by 2% without needing to hold a referendum, and social care authorities will be able to charge an additional 3% precept to help fund pressures in social care.
- This funding is additional to the £1bn social care grant announced last year which is being maintained. The Government expects to provide local authorities with over £3bn to address COVID-19 pressures, including in adult social care.
‘Grave concerns about the delivery mechanism’ - Care England
Care England has expressed surprise as to why social care has been ‘left out in the cold’ in the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England said, ‘In light of the sector’s contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, Government must support and be responsive to the needs of the sector. Of course £1bn is welcome, we welcome every penny, but in comparison with the NHS and the challenges that the sector faces, this figure is too little and too late. Unfortunately, on previous occasions when the Government gave huge amounts of money to local authorities it did not reach the front line, so we have grave concerns about the delivery mechanism.
‘The Chancellor said that there would be ‘access’ to £1bn extra for social care, split between adult and children’s social care services most of which will be raised locally. The supporting documents also make reference to additional resources for the Better Care Fund.
'Care England will be examining the detail but say that this announcement is a drop in the ocean in comparison with what the sector needs.'
'Spending Review is a catastrophe for social care' - NCF
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, responded to the Chancellor’s spending review by saying, ‘The Spending Review is a catastrophe for social care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has consistently talked up the importance of social care, yet once again it has shown that it is unwilling to get behind the provision of services that are the lifeblood of people living independently within the community, or within residential care, or support services.
‘The small increase in the national living wage comes nowhere near the level of recognition we need for care workers – these are the same people that the government has clapped and praised and yet when the moment comes to recognise those staff, and help employers to reward those staff, the silence is resounding.’
'The pandemic has threatened an already fragile adult social care provider market' - CPA
According to the Care Provider Alliance (CPA), the adult social care sector is estimated to contribute £41.2bn per annum to the economy in England. The total wage bill for the sector, accounted for around half of this amount at £22.2bn in 2019/20 (up 2% from 2018/19). With promises to increase the national living wage to £8.91 per hour, CPA has said it is imperative that proper funding is in place in order to pay staff a fair wage and to deliver quality services to the people who need it the most.
Kathy Roberts, Chair of the Care Provider Alliance (CPA) said, ‘The promised additional £1bn funding through local authorities falls short of the £7bn recommended by the Health and Social Care Committee and the £6bn forecasted from our own research in May 2020.
‘The financial pressures in local government as a result of years of austerity and the pandemic has threatened an already fragile adult social care provider market. Underpaying for social care, the impact of COVID-19 and the longer-term pressures on adult social care that come from having more older people living longer, the increased need from working-age adults, better support for people with a learning disability or autism, improved mental health service provision and the rising costs of delivering care are just some of the challenges that will need to be addressed, not to mention the costs of properly reforming the current social care system.'
'Social Care has so much potential for good and is falling further behind' - ADASS
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services' (ADASS') Autumn Survey of directors found that they believe COVID-19 has led to a huge surge in demand for most of forms of care. Only 2% said they were fully confident they would have the funding they need next year to meet all their statutory duties. It therefore comes as no surprise that ADASS President, James Bullion, has said the Chancellor’s announcement will have done little to allay their directors’ concerns.
ADASS President, James Bullion said, ‘We were hoping for a settlement that would enable us to stabilise care and support services for millions of older and disabled people and family carers. We asked for certainty and greater equality of treatment with our NHS colleagues. While we are still examining the detail, it seems as if the fragmented short-term funding announced by the Chancellor falls alarmingly short. We needed funding to ensure that care providers remain in business, staff are paid a national care wage that properly rewards them for their amazing work, and carers get the vital breaks they need to keep going. Social care has so much potential for good and is falling further behind.’
‘The problem is only going to get worse’ - Carers UK
Carers UK is ‘deeply concerned’ about how carers will continue to cope over the winter.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said, ‘The extra money the Chancellor promised for adult social care is not nearly enough to help take the pressure off unpaid carers who have been taking on extraordinary hours of care since March, with limited or no support at all from day and support services.
‘This problem is only going to get worse unless the Government acts to protect unpaid carers and ensures all those caring more than 50 hours a week get a funded break. Without specific measures for carers, many more are going to reach breaking point and we will see an increase in hospital admissions at a time when the health system is already under huge pressure.
‘The Government should increase the income of carers entitled to Carer’s Allowance, just £67.25 a week, by £20 a week, to match that made months ago to Universal Credit.’
'Disparity between the rhetoric on social care and the action taken' - Turning Point
Turning Point said this latest Spending Review has ‘exposed the disparity between the rhetoric on social care and the action taken.’
Julie Bass, Chief Executive at Turning Point said, ‘The increase for spending on the NHS is a welcome step, NHS workers have been at the frontline of the pandemic and the service requires funding to support their continued effort. However, this review has again exposed the disparity between the rhetoric on social care and the action taken.
‘Social care has not been supported to the same extent as the health service despite a Health Foundation report this week detailing the need for £11bn in extra funding for the sector by 2023/24. Similarly, those working in social care will also not be exempt from the public sector pay freeze. If we are to move towards a more fully integrated health and social care system we must treat the constituent parts of it equally.’
'Spending Review is exceptionally disappointing' - UKHCA
The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) was also keen to share its reaction to the news. UKHCA's Policy Director Colin Angel said, ‘Government’s announcement on the one-year Spending Review is exceptionally disappointing. It fails to address, amongst other things, the significant contribution that social care makes to enabling us all to live well at home, and which our valued workforce makes to the economy.
‘Government has also announced...increases in the statutory National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage. UKHCA will publish an updated version of our Minimum Price for Homecare shortly. This price indicates the minimum fee rates which providers should receive from councils and the NHS to cover their legal obligations of running regulated homecare services. This information is vital to inform the budgets which councils and the NHS will begin planning for next year.’
'Will not heal a social care system in need of major surgery' - ARCO
Associated Retirement Community Operators' (ARCO's) Executive Director, Michael Voges said, ‘£1bn is a very large sticking plaster and will help stop the bleeding so it is welcome, but will not heal a social care system in need of major surgery.
‘Older people in the UK have far less choice about housing and care provision than the vast majority of comparable countries. The Government could act now by publicly backing new models, such as Retirement Communities to sit alongside existing options like care homes and homecare and putting in place a framework which will help them grow.’
To read the spending review 2020 details in full, visit the UK Government website.
The National Care Forum (NCF) has stated that more resource, in terms of both staff time and money, is needed to implement the testing regime in the COVID-19 Winter Plan. Read its full response to the Winter Plan.