Social care sector welcomes funding announcement but still awaits full details

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, the Prime Minister outlined the Government’s plans for Health and Social Care.

08/09/21

Social care sector welcomes funding announcement but still awaits full details

A rise in taxes will be introduced across the UK to pay for reforms to social care and fund the NHS, the Prime Minister has announced.

Boris Johnson said the tax would begin as a 1.25 percentage point increase in National Insurance contributions for working people from April 2022, before becoming a separate tax on earned income in 2023.

The Government says the tax will be “legally ring-fenced” to pay only for health and social care costs.

Social care leaders have been tentative in their response to the announcement with many praising the first step towards progress on an issue that has dogged successive Prime Ministers.

"We have waited a quarter of a century for a government to deliver on the promise of sustainable funding and reform of adult social care,” said Stephen Chandler, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS). “This welcome announcement feels like a significant step forward and we hope that this will be the start of a new chapter for those of us with care and support needs, or who care for family members who do.”

Chandler warned that the specifics of the plan will be crucial, however, saying: “We are keen to look at the detail, but we hope that this package of measures can begin to help us to tackle the many challenges we face today, whilst transforming care and support for the future.”

Similar thoughts were echoed by Martin Green, CEO of Care England, who warned that the money must reach the frontline of social care and not be subsumed by wider NHS costs.

“We have been waiting for a very long time for any concrete plans on the long-term sustainability of adult social care reform and as such we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today. We want to go through the plans carefully and it is our hope that social care will be rewarded and recognised rather than playing second fiddle to the NHS. It is essential that money reaches the frontline.”

“The sector needs help now especially after the many challenges that became even more acute during the pandemic. We hope these plans will comprehensively address the issues across the whole adult social care sector, including younger adults with learning disabilities and autism. Recruitment and retention of workforce, our best resource, is the most urgent issue at present and it is vital that any long-term plans can be brought into play alongside immediate measures. Care workers are everyday heroes and have highlighted their value throughout the pandemic and need to be rewarded and recognised appropriately,” Green said.

Others were less optimistic about the announcement, however, with Mike Padgham, Chair of the Independent Care Group (ICG) labelling the announcement a “damp squib”.

“This, once again, has been a huge opportunity missed for radical, once in a generation reform of the social care system,” Padgham said, adding: “If reports are to be believed, of the £36bn promised over three years for health and social care from the new levy, only £5.8bn will be for social care.”

“That isn’t going to touch the crisis in the sector and will certainly not address the 120,000 vacancies in staffing, which is sending the sector into meltdown on a daily basis as care providers struggle to cover shifts.

“It will not fund the proper recruitment and training of the thousands of staff we need, nor will it allow the sector to properly reward those staff who have played such a vital, life-saving role during COVID-19. It is too little and, it looks like being, too late.

“This levy will not start until next April and the changes to paying for care until the end of next year. None of this is what we need. We need urgent, root and branch reform and we need it now.”

Boris Johnson made the pledge to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all” in his first speech as Prime Minister giving hope to leaders in the sector, however plans had until now failed to materialise.

Read the full document ‘Build Back Better: Our Plan for Health and Social Care’: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/build-back-better-our-plan-for-health-and-social-care

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