Social care providers ‘left out in the cold’ by lack of measures in Budget, sector leaders warn

Social care providers will be “left out in the cold” this winter by a lack of measures in the Budget to address the sector’s growing crisis, groups have warned.

English councils will receive £4.8 billion of new grant funding over the next three years for social care and other services, which the Government said represents the largest annual increase in local government core funding in more than a decade.

It is in addition to the previously announced £5.4 billion for social care, to be raised by a hike in national insurance contributions from April, as well as an immediate £162.5 million fund to help the sector recruit and retain staff.

Charities and care groups said the new funding is “nowhere near enough” to keep social care afloat as it heads into a challenging winter while experiencing staffing shortages and increased demand.

Care England, which represents independent providers of adult social care, said there will be “serious and far-reaching consequences”.

Chief executive Professor Martin Green said: “Care England has offered a plethora of constructive solutions as to how the Government could alleviate this crisis situation, but we have been left out in the cold; winter is going to be very, very tough without a robust social care sector to support the NHS.”

The Independent Care Group said it is “bitterly disappointed that another opportunity to rescue social care has been missed” and that the care of the oldest and most vulnerable “has been ignored once again”.

Chairman Mike Padgham said: “There are good things in the Budget – the minimum wage, help for the low paid and incentives to industry – but nothing for care.

“What money has been announced for social care today and in recent weeks simply won’t get the sector back on an even keel.”

Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said NHS leaders will be concerned about the “long-term financial squeeze” on local government care and public health services.

She said: “While additional resources for councils announced today are welcome, the lack of specific social care investment means there is still a long way to go to create the sustainable social care system we all need.”

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) said the new money will do “little more” than meet the costs of the national living wage rise for care workers.

ADASS vice-president Sarah McClinton said: “Without action now, there is a real risk of people suffering indignity and harm and dying alone.”

Gavin Terry, head of policy at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “After 20 months of devastation and trauma for people affected by dementia, the Chancellor has today added to their despair by effectively dealing them a real-terms spending cut to adult social care.

“With this cut, the Government have pulled the rug from under their own reform plans.

“While some additional local funding has been announced, it’s nowhere near enough to prop up social care until 2023.

“This will only lead to the increased rationing of care, which is already spread dangerously thin.”

Sense chief executive Richard Kramer said the new funding for local authorities must be ringfenced for social care “or we will continue to see disabled people going without the care they need”.

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) welcomed the increase to the National Living Wage but said it is unclear how this will be funded within social care.

Dr Rhidian Hughes, VODG chief executive, said: “As it stands, it is unclear as to how the £4.8 billion allocated to local authorities by the end of parliament will be distributed to social care to fund these rising costs.

“The risk of disabled people having services pulled away, and providers being left with a depleted workforce, as VODG has previously warned, remains.”

Engage Britain’s director of advocacy, Francis Elliott, said the additional funding for local government is the “bare minimum” needed to keep the social care system from collapsing.

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