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Lack of extra social care funding ‘hugely disappointing’, think tank says

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said there was a ‘desperate’ need for a long-term social care plan.

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The Chancellor’s budget made no mention of any additional funding for social care (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Chancellor’s budget made no mention of any additional funding for social care (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Chancellor’s budget made no mention of any additional funding for social care (Joe Giddens/PA)

Care providers and think thanks have described the lack of additional funding for social care in the Chancellor’s budget as “hugely disappointing”.

Despite Rishi Sunak pledging £6 billion to the NHS, his Budget announcement on Wednesday made no mention of extra money for social care.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt described it as a “glaring omission”, adding that there was a “desperate” need for a long-term social care plan

The Independent Care Group (ICG) accused the Government of “failing to get social care done”, while Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said the budget did “nothing to alleviate our anxiety”.

It comes as MPs on the Government’s Health and Social Care Committee launched an inquiry on Tuesday to establish how much money the social care sector needs to avoid shortages.

Mr Hunt, who chairs the committee, said of the Budget on Twitter: “Hospitals will continue to fill up & winter crises will be annual until we fix this issue, which, I fully accept, wasn’t solved when I was in office.

“We desperately need a social care long-term plan to go alongside the NHS plan.”

Budget 2020
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Victoria Jones/PA)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said a strong social care system was needed to help older people who are the most vulnerable to Covid-19.

Responding to the Budget statement, he said: “But social care is in crisis.

“There is an £8 billion funding gap since 2010.

“Instead of the Government presenting a social care plan which the part-time Prime Minister told us was ready long ago, they are asking the rest of us for ideas.”

The new Government’s Queen speech promised an additional £1 billion would be made available for social care every year of the new Parliament.

And in January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to produce a plan for solving the social care crisis within the next 12 months.

Corbyn visits Belfast
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said social care was ‘in crisis’ (David Young/PA)

Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “We are dismayed that social care did not get even a mention in today’s Budget, after the Government’s promise to deliver a solution.

“Unpaid carers have been holding the system together for too long and they simply cannot afford to keep waiting for this promised plan.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently wrote to MPs and peers across Westminster to initiate talks on social care.

But some fear talks will simply prolong the crisis, and are urging the Government to make reform an immediate priority, more than two years after promises of a social care green paper.

Mike Padgham, chairman of the ICG, which represents independent care providers in York and North Yorkshire, said the Budget was an “opportunity missed” to tackle the “ongoing crisis” in social care.

He said: “Some 1.5m people aren’t getting the care they need and we have been promised measures now for years, but nothing is changing.

“There is little doubt that coronavirus is going to hit us hard and will exacerbate problems already being felt in the sector, but there was no recognition of that today.”

Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at The King’s Fund think tank, said adult social care remains a “pressing and overlooked” issue.

He added: “It is hugely disappointing that this Budget does not include an emergency cash injection to help local government to address social care needs beyond coronavirus.”

Jenny Coles, vice president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said while additional funding for schools and colleges was welcome, “we are frustrated that the Chancellor focused more on broadband, trains and freezes to beer duty in his speech than on children”.

PA