£2bn boost to social care funding in 2017 Budget – but is it enough?

Following criticism of a crumbling social care system in England, Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a £2bn funding boost to services over the next three years.

The government has been under fire recently, with warnings that the social care system is on the brink of collapse due to lack of funds and resources. Mr Hammond said that the cash injection will allow local authorities to “act now to commission new care packages”.

The government will also be setting out long-term funding options for the social care system later in the year.

And while the money looks like good news, is it going to be enough for those in need of support? There’s been a mixed response from charities and care bodies.

Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive at the MS Society, said: “We welcome the Government’s £2billion cash boost for social care over the next three years. It will help, in the short term, to keep the social care system in England afloat but it is not a long-term fix.

“The Government must now push ahead urgently with finding a long-term solution for social care funding. We’re seeing increasing numbers of people with MS being denied the care they need to help manage this challenging and unpredictable condition. People with MS, their families and carers, and the NHS shouldn’t have to keep shouldering the consequences of an underfunded care system.”

Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at learning disability charity Mencap, said: “The government’s long overdue recognition of the crisis in social care is welcome. The additional funding announced today will offer some stability as the government moves to consult on future funding options later this year. However, £4.6bn has been taken out of social care funding in the last six years, with people facing cuts to support and services. Future funding arrangements must be sustainable and sufficient to meet projected needs of disabled people in years to come.

Lorainne Bellamy, a Mencap spokesperson who has a learning disability, said: “I have a learning disability and have been living on my own now for seven years.  My supporter helps me with letters about my tax credits which are really difficult to understand. She helps me read and understand my telephone bills, my gas bills, my insurance and my statements from the bank. She has helped me set up direct debits so I can pay my bills and not get into debt. I used to not get any support at home, I struggled a lot, but this help has made a real difference.

“I know how important the support I have had has been in allowing me to be independent. I am worried that there are people worse off than me who don’t get any support at all and worry about what happens to them. The government need to make sure people with a learning disability and their families get the right support.”

Professor Martin Green OBE Chief Executive for Care England said: “The Chancellor’s Spring Budget has quite rightly acknowledged the precarious state of adult social care.  Whilst the £2 billion additional funding over three years for adult social care is welcome it will only be an efficient use of tax payers money should the Green Paper on Adult Social Care deliver the reforms that are necessary to put the system on a stable footing.”

Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “We welcome the government starting to face up to the crisis taking place in social care. The injection of £2bn is a serious step forward but falls short of a long-term solution.  In our report, ‘The State of Social Care’ we called for an independent cross party commission to deliver a fair and sustainable long term funding solution. We re-iterate this call today as a long term settlement is an urgent priority. Our report demonstrated, 48% of disabled adults who say they need social care do not receive any support at all, leaving thousands who are trapped in their home, isolated and unable to work or volunteer. This is unacceptable in 2017 and must change.”

Richard Kramer, Deputy CEO of disability charity Sense, said: “There will be a sigh of relief amongst the social care sector, as the Government finally responds to its cries for help with a promise to invest the funds it desperately needs right now. The Government’s plans will abate the pressing financial woes currently threatening to overwhelm the system and will offer short-term stabilisation. However, the reality is that money alone is not enough to save social care from collapse and the future of these essential services hinges on the development of a long-term strategy.

“Although the chancellor’s speech focused entirely on older people, he should not forget that many disabled people also rely on social care services to enable them to live independently, with dignity and as active members of their communities, which is why the protection of these vital services is so important. We look forward to working with the Government on the upcoming green paper to ensure it focuses on a long-term strategy that guarantees a sustainable system that can provide quality support for all those who need it.”

Diane Lightfoot, Chief Executive Officer of Business Disability Forum, said: “Whilst it is very positive to see more funding for social care, which often presents a lifeline for disabled people, other areas of the Budget risk at best slowing, at worst damaging, progress around closing the disability employment gap. The effect of increased business rates is one such example. While the Chancellor announced substantial support packages for heavily impacted organisations there is a risk that such financial pressures will slow progress in closing the disability employment gap, as firms scale back hiring and less money is available for diversity and inclusion initiatives. This financial pressure is particularly relevant for small-to-medium size businesses, where disability-smart cultures tend to be less established or robust in part due to a lack of resources.”

What’s your view on the funding boost for social care? Let us know on Twitter, @EnableMagazine.

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