The budget revealed.
Today’s budget promised £2 billion in new money for social care over the next three years. Chancellor Phillip Hammond said this would help bridge the gap until the Better Care Fund kicks in. Yet, will it be enough to solve the social care crisis?
It is clear from Hammond’s comments that this measure is primarily about removing pressure on the NHS. Much of this is caused by delayed discharges from hospital. It follows an increasing clamour for extra cash from Conservative backbenchers, such as Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative head of the Commons Health Committee. She warned that NHS reforms would“fail” and patient safety would be put at risk without an emergency rescue package. In an interview with The Independent, she urged Chancellor Hammond to change course – or watch the “suffering” public turn against the Government.
Not that anyone could say today’s announcement was about changing course. Hammond said just 24 local authorities were responsible for half of all delayed discharges in England. So the Government would take measures to ensure “more joined-up working” – presumably between local authorities and local NHS commissioners. There was no detail on what this would mean in practice.
Hammond also said the long-term challenges required a strategic approach. No kidding. He promised a green paper later this year on funding social care. But he said “Labour’s hated death tax” – a proposed 10% levy on estates to fund social care – would not be among the options.
What it all means for social care.
For a decade, we have heard calls for plans to transform the social care system so we can sustainably meet the needs of a growing elderly population. Here at Just Caring Legal, every day we see the effects of the failure to heed those calls. Elderly and vulnerable people are unable to access the care they are entitled to because of problems over funding. We see local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups finding ever more inventive ways to limit their scarce resources. We see many care packages that go against both the spirit and the letter of the regulatory systems that are supposed to ensure the proper use of funds.
The time for talk, for proposals, for green papers, is long gone. Social care needs investment. This £2 billion is welcome, but it is not enough. We need action. In the meantime, individuals and their families will have to continue fighting for their rights.
Just Caring Legal, a solicitor’s firm specialising in the recovery of care fees, can help. Your Just Caring Legal solicitor will deliver strong evidence-based arguments to challenge illegal decisions on care funding. Call us today for your free initial assessment.