Leading charity, Age UK, and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have commented on Monday’s Budget announcement by Philip Hammond.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK and co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said: “Our dominant reaction to the Budget announcement is relief, but we are disappointed that the investment in social care wasn’t more and that at £650m (plus £45m for Disabled Facilities Grant), it is somewhere between a third and half of the amount the experts say is needed to fill existing gaps in services.
“Due to lack of funding, next year was shaping up to be truly perilous for the delivery of social care so it is very good news that this extra money has been found, but at £650m it won’t be enough to plug current gaps, let alone bring back the care homes and home care packages we’ve lost over the last decade or so – all at a time when demand has been rising. Unfortunately, despite this additional money the 1.4 million older people with some level of unmet need for care will have to continue to ‘make do’ and those older and disabled people who are lucky enough to be receiving a service are unlikely to see any improvement in 2019.
“This announcement also continues the pattern whereby year on year, governments allow social care to teeter on the brink, only to bail it out with an emergency hand out – just enough to prevent total national collapse but no more. The problem is that this approach gives neither staff nor providers much encouragement to stay and so they continue to drift away, storing up even greater problems for the future.
“Nothing could better demonstrate the need for a bold and ambitious Social Care Green Paper, fit for meeting the challenge of saving social care for this and future generations, with much also resting on the outcome of next year’s Spending Review.”
One of the many issues in social care is the recruitment gap, with 90,000 job vacancies every day and the need to fill an additional 500,000 new job roles by 2030.
The RCN has welcomed the investment in social care services but urge ministers to think seriously about how they will safeguard the NHS with falling numbers of registered nurses.
Dame Donna Kinnair, acting RCN chief executive, said: “The extra £650m for social care is a step in the right direction but, in truth, those caring for vulnerable people will know that this amount barely touches the sides.
“The current funding gap for social care is estimated to be £2 billion by 2020 – we need cold hard cash to follow the forthcoming social care green paper and other future proposals.
“The Chancellor is right to recognise the importance voters and taxpayers attach to the NHS. When the 10-year plan is released later this year, the Government and NHS England must show how they will recruit the tens of thousands of extra registered nurses needed to guarantee patient safety.
“Philip Hammond is to be commended for not raising the spectre of regionalised public sector pay as rumours last week suggested. Frontline nurses and care workers defeated this six years ago as a fundamentally unfair move that exacerbates shortages, rather than fix them.”