Multimillion-pound social care boost ‘only just staves off total collapse’

Additional funding announced for social care “only just staves off total collapse” of a “broken” sector, a leading charity has warned.

Philip Hammond announced £650 million for social care funding next year.

The Chancellor said he would make the additional grant funding available for English local authorities for 2019/20, on top of an additional £240 million previously announced to help the struggling sector cope with winter pressures.

He also announced additional funds for disabled people and children in care.

Mr Hammond reiterated statements that the Government’s much-awaited social care green paper would be published “shortly”.

“I recognise the immediate pressures local authorities face in respect of social care,” Mr Hammond said.

“Building on the £240 million for social care winter pressures announced earlier this month, I will make available a further £650 million of grant funding for English authorities for 2019/20 and an additional £45 million for the disabled facilities grant in England in 2018/19, and will invest a further £84 million over the next five years to expand our successful children’s social care programmes to 20 further councils with high or rising numbers of children in care.

“Allowing councils to improve services for older people, for people with disabilities and for children in care now, while longer term funding decisions will be made at the spending review.”

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society charity, said: “£650 million to prop up the broken social care system only just staves off total collapse.

“It does nothing for people with dementia who are footing the bill themselves, while people with other diseases are getting free support through the NHS.”

Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), welcomed the additional £650 million, but added: “This is still far short of the £2.35 billion that ADASS identified would be needed for social care to stand still in 2019/20; councils have been struggling with funding shortfalls for years.

“The £45 million for the disabled facilities grant will also enable more people to live independently, with home adaptations enabling them to live in their own homes for as long as possible.

“It is important to remember that social care is accounting for over 40% of council budgets, whilst still not meeting all the needs of the community. With rising need and increasing complexity, the demand for care and support services is only going to increase.

“This Budget has failed to provide the long-term funding solution that social care desperately needs – and whilst the extra investment is welcome, the need for that long-term approach has never been more urgent.

“The time for sticking plasters is over – we now need to see a serious commitment towards making social care sustainable.”

Voluntary Organisations Disability Group chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said: “Overall the investment announced by the Chancellor is short-sighted.

“It fails to acknowledge the risks facing a crucial, but woefully under-funded, social care sector delivering support for millions of older and disabled people every day.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: “Social care remains the Achilles heel – it has been consistently underfunded, neglected and unloved by politicians over many years and the extra funding announced today – again welcome – is clearly inadequate.

“What we needed was support to get the system back on its feet, but what we have is yet another sticking plaster.”

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “The Chancellor has acted to help tackle some of this immediate funding crisis with £650 million for social care which provides a financial boost for some of our local public services.

“While this funding will ease some of the immediate financial pressure facing councils and our local services, it is clear that this cannot be a one-off. Today’s funding is a start, but the real test will come in the Spending Review next year

“Local government in England continues to face significant funding gaps and rising demand for adult social care, children’s services and homelessness support will continue to threaten other services our communities rely on, like running libraries, cleaning streets and maintaining park spaces.”

Shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley said: “This short-sighted Government, for the fifth year running, has offered only a short-term sticking plaster to stave off catastrophic collapse in social care, not the long-term funding the social care system desperately needs.

“Because of the repeated hammer blows by this Tory Government to council budgets, publicly funded care is hanging by a thread, with this money coming nowhere near to meeting the £1.5 billion funding gap for this year, and money for next year being shared with children’s services.”

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