Social care funding ‘nowhere near enough’ and ‘huge opportunity missed’ – sector leaders react

Social care funding pledged by the Government for the next three years is “nowhere near enough”, sector leaders have said.

Some £5.3 billion will go towards social care between 2022-23 and 2024-25, the Government announced on Tuesday.

Less than half of this will fund the new minimum floor and cap.

From October 2023, nobody will pay more than £86,000 for their social care – regardless of their assets.

The Government will fully cover the cost of care for those with assets under £20,000, and contribute to the cost of care for those with assets of between £20,000 and £100,000.

Around £500 million will go towards workforce training and skills, while money will also go towards increasing local authority payment rates, integration and quality.

Chief executive of the UK Home Care Association (UKHCA) Dr Jane Townson said: “This is nowhere near enough.

“It will not address current issues and some measures may create new risks.”

Caroline Abrahams, co-Chairwoman of the Care and Support Alliance and Charity Director of Age UK, said: “Our initial assessment is that while the Prime Minister’s announcement doesn’t give us everything we wanted and we are worried about the funding, it is definitely worth having and a once in a generation opportunity to improve social care that must not be allowed to slip away.

“At last there’s some hope for a better future and we all stand to gain, since any of us, at any age, could develop a need for care.”

She added: “Unless the Chancellor delivers substantially more investment into councils’ budgets in the autumn Spending Review there’s a real risk that the Prime Minister’s announcement will fall flat.”

Mike Padgham (pictured), chairman of the Independent Care Group, said it was a “huge opportunity missed for radical, once in a generation reform of the social care system.”

The amount promised to social care “isn’t going to touch the crisis in the sector and will certainly not address the 120,000 vacancies in staffing, which is sending the sector into meltdown on a daily basis as care providers struggle to cover shifts.

“It will not fund the proper recruitment and training of the thousands of staff we need, nor will it allow the sector to properly reward those staff who have played such a vital, life-saving role during Covid-19.

“It is too little and, it looks like being, too late.”

Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said there is no guarantee of sustainable funding beyond the three-year period.

Setting the cap at £86,000 also means that it will help “relatively few people”, he added.

He said: “The changes to the means test are very welcome and will bring thousands more people into the publicly funded system.

“There is a real risk this will leave inadequate funding to bring about meaningful change in areas such as workforce, access and quality.

“Whilst this plan certainly does not ‘fix’ adult social care, as the PM had promised, it is the most significant step forward for a generation. “

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, welcomed the announcement, adding: “We want to go through the plans carefully and it is our hope that social care will be rewarded and recognised rather than playing second fiddle to the NHS.

“It is essential that money reaches the frontline.”

Dr Ben Maruthappu, chief executive of the social care provider Cera, said: “Sadly, social care continues to be treated as the poorer sibling to the NHS, and we need to see greater levels of parity between the two.

“Additional funding is a big step in the right direction and is very much welcome. However, it will take much more than just money to address the most pressing issues facing social care in the UK.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said the focus on funding before reform was a “cart-before-the-horse approach”.

She added: “A detailed plan is needed first to mend and future-proof a sector broken by years of neglect. Only then will the cost of making good the damage become clear.”

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