The leader of the Labour Party has criticised the Chancellor for failing to address social care reform in this afternoon’s Budget.
Keir Starmer said Rishi Sunak “papered over the cracks” in his spending plans and “ignored the social care sector”, which has been “underfunded for a decade”.
“Although the Chancellor spoke for almost an hour, we heard nothing about a long-term plan to fix social care. The Chancellor may have forgotten about it, but the Labour Party never will,” he said.
“After the decisions of the last year and a decade of neglect, we needed a budget to fix the foundations of our economy, to reward our key workers, to protect the NHS and to build a more prosperous economy for the future. Instead, what we got was a budget that papered over the cracks rather than rebuilding the foundations – a budget that shows that the government doesn’t understand what went wrong in the last decade, or what’s needed in the next.”
He added: “We’ve got an economy, as a result of the last 10 years, with 3.6 million people in insecure work, where wages stagnated for a decade, over 4 million children living in poverty, and critically, we went into this crisis with 100,000 unfilled posts in the NHS and where social care was ignored and underfunded for a decade. Today’s Budget doesn’t even recognise that, let alone rectify it.”
Over the last week, care leaders across several organisations have urged the Chancellor to offer a long-term support plan after the devastating financial and emotional impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has exposed structural weaknesses in the sector.
Independent Care Group (ICG) chair Mike Padgham said Sunak had the chance to “go down in history” as the Chancellor who tackled the social care crisis.
Amongst other things, the ICG wanted to see NHS health care and social care merged and managed either locally or nationally; extra funding for social care, funded by taxation or National Insurance; a properly costed national rate for care fees and a proper salary and career pathway to recognise and reward social care staff.
“COVID-19 exposed a care sector in crisis and a terrible price was paid,” Padgham said. “Now, as we emerge from the pandemic, the social care sector must be the first to get the reform and help it needs to recover.”
HCI will soon be reporting on the care industry’s reaction to the Budget.