Social care organisations and council networks have expressed their frustration over the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, branding it a ‘missed opportunity’ to deliver ‘desperately needed’ sector funding.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Philip Hammond said a review of social care will come as part of a departmental spending review in the summer, so long as a Brexit deal is agreed over the next few weeks and the uncertainty hanging over the economy is lifted.
“I intend to launch a full three-year Spending Review before the summer recess, to be concluded alongside an Autumn Budget,” he said
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said this indicates that the long-awaited Social Care Green Paper will be delayed once again.
“Not for the first time the Chancellor held out the prospect of unspecified amounts of ‘jam tomorrow’ for our beleaguered social care system, but only if a deal to leave the European Union is agreed by Parliament,” she said.
“Given the uncertainty over that it is difficult to be at all confident that relief is on the way any time soon. Meanwhile, with only a couple of weeks to go now until April we notice that Ministers and officials have stopped saying that the repeatedly delayed Social Care Green Paper may be published that month.
“If this endless prevarication over social care didn’t have such serious consequences for millions of older and disabled people whose needs are not being fully, or in many cases even partly met, it would be laughable.”
George McNamara, director of policy and influencing at Independent Age said: “It’s desperately disappointing and frustrating that the government has yet again decided to kick the can of social care funding down the road. We are in the scandalous position where people are dying every day because they are not receiving the social care that meets their needs.
“The government is focused on Brexit, and older people are suffering because social care is still being treated as a Cinderella service, not getting the care and attention it needs. The Government’s long term plan for the NHS will be ineffective until it addresses the crisis in social care funding, and part of resolving this crisis must be to release without further delay the long overdue social care Green Paper, for which we have been waiting for over two years.”
Also responding to the Statement, Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “Another opportunity has passed and once again the Government has failed to deliver the funding for social care services that unpaid carers and those they support desperately need.
“Without immediate investment in care services – as well as plans for sustainable long term funding – the pressure on families providing unpaid care is only going to increase. We know that carers are already under a lot of strain, with the vast majority of (72%) reporting poor mental health and two in five unable to take a break from their caring role in the last year.”
Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association expressed his disappointment that the Chancellor has missed the opportunity to use the Spring Statement to provide funding for under-pressure local services, given that councils are still facing a funding gap of more than £3 billion.
“The money local government has to maintain the services our communities rely on is running out fast and huge uncertainty remains about how local services will be paid for into the next decade,” he added.
“The government’s plan to publish the Spending Review alongside the Autumn Budget this year could exacerbate the funding challenges facing councils and will severely hamper their ability to plan ahead for next year and beyond. It is vital that the Government publishes the Spending Review much earlier and ensures it genuinely secures the financial sustainability of councils.”
Lord Porter warned that Brexit “cannot be a distraction” from the challenges facing public service.
“Fully funding councils is the only way councils will be able to keep providing the services which matter to people’s lives,” he added.