Spring Budget neglects social care, says sector

March 3, 2021

Leading social care organisations and charities have expressed disappointment that adult social care did not receive due recognition in the Chancellor’s Budget today.

Hopeful calls

There has been a hopeful momentum to the past few weeks from the social care sector calling on the Government to include detail on social care in the Budget. On 1st March, the National Care Forum’s (NCF) Chief Executive, Vic Rayner, said ‘now is the time to act’ and said the pandemic has had a devastating impact on social care and shone a real spotlight on many of the issues it was already facing. Vic Rayner said care has long been marginalised and neglected as a central part of our economy.

The sector is under enormous pressure now; however, NCF said it is patently clear that strategic and substantive investment in social care has the potential to transform the lives of individuals, the communities they are part of and the country as a whole. In 2018, Skills For Care found that the economic benefit of the care sector in England alone was £38.5bn. The NCF Chief Executive said social care is very much a local enterprise, providing local employment in local areas, bringing the economic benefit of local wages spent in local shops and businesses, supporting local supply chains and paying local taxes.

Prior to the Budget announcement, Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said the sector is tired of empty promises, White Papers and consultations. Regarding the Budget, including detail on social care, he said, ‘It is now or never.’

In January, Care England’s Budget submission highlighted the following:

  • The changing cost and the operational reality that has been imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The intervention which the Treasury can make in the sphere of insurance to assist the adult social care sector.
  • The existing and potential role which the adult social care sector can continue to play as a valuable employer in the UK’s job market.
  • The need for a £7 billion injection into the adult social care sector, in line with the Commons Health and Social Care Committee’s call.

The Directors of Adult Social Care Services (ADASS) said the Chancellor should use the upcoming Budget to send a signal that meeting the needs of older and disabled people, carers and families sits at the heart of the Government’s agenda and will be at the heart of recovery.

The sector is 'disappointed' 

The reactions filtered in slowly today – organisations awaited concrete confirmation that social care didn’t have a dedicated spot in the Budget report.

The National Care Forum urged the Chancellor to quickly address the lack of acknowledgement and flagged that all ring-fenced emergency funding for COVID-19 will come to a halt on 31st March; however, it stated that none of the costs associated with providing care in a COVID-19 world would disappear and therefore urgent action is required to address short-term financial gaps in the Budget. The NCF has asked for the Government to outline a detailed timescale for the full-scale reform of social care.

In response to the Chancellor’s budget statement, Vic Rayner said, ‘There is nothing in this budget for social care. Nothing that acknowledges the massive financial challenges affecting social care provision. No recognition of the importance of investing in services that operate at a local level, employ local people and support the most vulnerable members of communities. Not even an acknowledgement of the incredible dedication and commitment of the social care workforce.

‘Meanwhile, social care will take a deep breath once again and look hard at all the announcements around developing the workforce and investing in technology, to see how they can be fully embraced by those receiving care and the workforce that supports them.’

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said, ‘Whilst there are some really welcome policies in the Budget, which may in time have tangible impacts upon employment and investment, we are disappointed that social care, the real front line, hasn’t received the support that it needs so badly. This Budget still resembled an emergency one rather than one that provided any long-term assurance for the sector.

‘Care England has been calling for a ‘1948 moment’ to help the sector re-boot, recover and triumph.  The Budget, however, failed to recognise the changing cost and operational reality that has been imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither did it show support for the existing and potential role which the adult social care sector plays as a valuable employer, comparable to the size of the NHS, in the UK’s job market. Neither did it counterbalance the desperate need for an insurance strategy for the sector.’

The Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) said the lack of detail on social care in the Budget was ‘an insult to older people.’ Helen Wildbore, Director of the R&RA, said, ‘The budget is an insult to older people needing care and their families. Our helpline hears every day from people relying on these vital services who already feel neglected and left behind by the Government. The sector was already on its knees before the pandemic hit and now it is at crisis point. Following a year of unremitting challenges, with care services stretched to breaking point and staff burnt out, support from the Chancellor was desperately and urgently needed. Older people and their families deserve better.’

United Response is a national charity that provides person-centred support to around 3,000 adults and young people with learning disabilities, mental health needs or physical disabilities – including some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Sarah Battershall, Director of Quality and Practice Development at United Response, said, ‘Public services like social care have been the backbone of our country’s day-to-day response to this awful virus, with frontline staff giving creative and passionate help to millions since March 2020.

‘The absence of any mention of social care in today’s Budget was striking at this pivotal moment and Government must urgently bring forward its plans to invest in the future of this vital sector and those who depend on it. But if it’s once again ‘the same old story’, then let’s change the narrative: we all deserve the ability to make connections, nurture relationships, be supported and support each other. Government must now make social care a priority for all of us – for our friends and families, our present and futures.’

Visit the Government website to read the Budget report in full.

Nine out of 10 MPs say that local Government does not have enough resources to meet the growing need for social care services and three in five believe that the social care budget should be raised by £7bn a year over the next two years.



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