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Social work sector reacts to Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

Organisations across children’s and adults’ services have welcomed extra funding in the announcement, but warned that this will not be enough to cover the increase in pressures they face.

18/11/22

Social work sector reacts to Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivered his Autumn Statement, with important announcements for the social work sector.

The Autumn Statement, which sets out the government’s plans on spending and taxation, was characterised by tax rises and a spending squeeze. The Chancellor said this would help to tame inflation.

Mr Hunt told the BBC his plan would bring down soaring prices while protecting public services.

“These are real challenges for families up and down the country.

“I'm not pretending these aren't going to be difficult times, but there's a plan, there's hope - and if we follow this plan, if we stick with it, we can get through to the other side."

The Statement announced some key measures, saying that benefits will increase with inflation (10.1%) with the benefit cap also lifted, as well as social rent increases being capped at 7%.

The NHS budget will increase in each of the next 3 years by £3.3bn, with a long term workforce plan supposedly on its way.

Mr Hunt announced up to £4.7bn being made available for adult social care in 2024-25, and also that the social care cost cap will be delayed for 2 years, with money being diverted to local authorities to provide care.

Sector leaders in adult social work and care said the Statement provided some “welcome relief”.

“We still need to read the small print, but with tens of thousands waiting for care and support, unpaid carers breaking down and staff quitting in droves, today’s announcement appears to provide some welcome relief and lessen some of the impact of the current crises ahead of what promises to be the most difficult winter any of us can remember,” Sarah McClinton, ADASS President, and Cathie Williams, ADASS Chief Executive said in a joint statement.

“The next step is to develop a long-term, fully funded plan that provides the right support for older and disabled people, and unpaid carers, together with an adult social care workforce plan that complements the one announced for the NHS.”

Meanwhile, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said the two-year delay in introducing the social care cost cap “must not be wasted”.

BASW UK’s Chief Executive Dr Ruth Allen said: “The Government should use this time to develop ambition for a better and more joined up care and support services.”

Dr Allen warned that while some of the announcements were welcome, they would not solve the problems of deteriorating living standards.

“We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of additional funding to tackle the cost of living, such as uprating benefits in line with inflation. But uprating benefits was the minimum action that a Government committed to improving standards of living should deliver, and it is does not magically fix the other problems that are facing people hardest hit by rising prices. Benefits were already at a paltry level and uprating with inflation simply means that people who receive benefits are not worse off.”

Leaders of children’s services were less positive about the budget, however, saying that the extra funding does not go far enough.

“On first reading, it is difficult to see any real recognition of the pressures faced by local authorities and schools within the Chancellor’s autumn statement,” ADCS President Steve Crocker said.

“Additional funding for schools and both adult and children’s social care will help us to get through the winter but does not come close to addressing the ever-increasing funding gap in our budgets.

“The case for investment in children’s services has never been stronger, particularly if we are to achieve the reforms set out in the independent review of children’s social care. We are all seeing rising demand whilst children are presenting greater complexity of need, yet children are mentioned just four times across the entire published autumn statement.”

“More and more families are experiencing hardship, or have reached crisis, and we know that there is a strong correlation between poverty, deprivation and involvement with children’s services. The impacts of the pandemic and cost of living crisis are already being felt across wider children’s services, including children’s mental health, early help and social care but we are yet to see a national commitment to address this urgent need.”

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