‘Disappointment rings heavy’ over lack of measures to address social care pressures in budget

Care groups, MPs and charities have criticised the absence of measures to address growing social care pressures in this year’s budget, saying “disappointment rings heavy”.

The Government has made a “huge mistake”, according to Labour, while charities warned some small providers could be forced to close.

The Government said last month it is committed to reform and will bring forward proposals later this year.

Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer pledged that the party would never forget the sector, after Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) addressed the House of Commons.

His written budget report shows the Government is planning a cut of £30 billion in the day-to-day spending of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Planned budgets for 2020-21 were £199.2 billion, with this set to fall to £169.1 billion in 2021-22.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: “Rishi Sunak promised to be ‘open and honest’ with the British public. But buried in the small print of his budget is a cut to frontline NHS services that will increase pressure on staff and do nothing for patients stuck on growing waiting lists.

“This budget papered over the cracks rather than rebuilding the foundations of our country.”

Shadow social care minister Liz Kendall tweeted: “No mention of social care in #Budget21: either immediate funding or long-term reforms. Elderly & disabled people need decent social care so they can live with dignity & respect.

“Families need it to help them balance work & caring responsibilities. NHS needs it too. Huge mistake.”

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt also questioned the lack of help for social care in Mr Sunak’s Budget.

While Mr Hunt welcomed an “impressive” and “reassuring” statement, he added there was “little hope” for the social care sector which had been “bruised and demoralised after most devastating year in its history”.

“Understand money is difficult to commit at this stage, but they desperately need to know a plan is coming,” he tweeted.

Danny Mortimer chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: “The NHS has faced an unprecedented and almighty battle over the past year and has at times come very close to breaking point, so to continually under-resource and underfund both the health service and social care sector when they are facing the biggest challenge they have ever seen is of huge concern.”

Sam Monaghan, chief executive of the charitable care provider MHA, said older people and those who care for them were “forgotten and still underfunded”.

He tweeted: “Are those of us in social care surprised by the lack of funding laid out in today’s budget?

“I think not – but disappointment rings heavy.”

Age UK said the Government had “spurned” the opportunity to help small care companies, despite warnings about their sustainability.

Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “The result may well be an upsurge in closures over the next few months, putting more stress and strain on older and disabled people & their unpaid carers, who have already endured so much.

“We and many others will also be seeking assurances that the lack of any mention of longer term care refinancing and reform does not reflect an intention on the part of this Government to renege on its repeated promise to ‘fix’ care by bringing forward concrete proposals later in the year. “

The membership group Care England had been calling for the Chancellor to commit to tackling the “trauma and fragility” of the social care sector in his budget.

Chief executive, Professor Martin Green, said: “Whilst there are some really welcome policies in the budget which may in time have tangible impacts upon employment and investment, we are disappointed that social care, the real front line, hasn’t received the support that it needs so badly.

“This Budget still resembled an emergency one rather than one that provided any long-term assurance for the sector”.

The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, said the Government had missed a “pivotal moment” to help the social care sector start its recovery.

Chairman Mike Padgham said: “Support for those in difficulty, through the continuation of the Universal Credit top-up, is welcome, as is the extra support for business and investment in the economy.

“But whilst billions were promised for this, that and the other, once again social care and the vulnerable people who rely upon it have been betrayed. We have been left short-changed once again.”

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