Spending settlement not enough to avert 'care crisis'

Two pound coins

Four leading organisations representing providers and commissioners across the health and social care sector have told the Chancellor the Spending Review settlement in not sufficient to resolve the care funding crisis.

'Mounting crisis'

In a letter to George Osborne and the heads of the Department of Health and Department for Communities and Local Government on 9 December, the organisations call for 'urgent’ talks in the face of a mounting crisis in the care of older and disabled people.

“Ultimately the package put forward for social care will not enable us to fill the current gap in funding, cover additional costs associated with the introduction of the National Living Wage, nor fully meet future growth in demand due to our ageing population," the letter from the NHS Confederation, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Care Providers Alliance and Care and Support Alliance says.

Transformation 'at risk'

The letter also warns of the impact of some resources being back-loaded, including the Better Care Fund. 

“This has significant implications in terms of the vital support needed by older and disabled people and their carers. And it also puts the delivery of the NHS Five Year Forward View – and implementation of the Care Act  at risk.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Rob Webster, the head of the NHS Confederation, said: “The NHS is not an island, it is part of a single system. It is counter-intuitive to talk about front-loading NHS funding while not doing the same for social care. 

"Without sufficient investment in social care the sustainability of the NHS is called into question."

Adverse impacts

Several immediate issues must be addressed, the letter says, including:

  • What happened to the £6bn originally earmarked for the full implementation of the Care Act?  
  • What steps can be taken to ensure that the proposed 2 per cent levy per year on council tax in the form of a social care precept delivers the money required to ensure the right levels of social care and does so equitably? 
  • What steps can be taken, given the wider Spending Review settlement for local government, to support councils to address the shortfall? 
It concludes: “If we do not collectively address the issues relating to levels and phasing of funding, there is the potential for significant and adverse impacts."

The NHS Confederation has continued to press the case for a sustainable settlement for both health and care services. In a letter to the Chancellor ahead of the Spending Review, the Confederation's new chair, Stephen Dorrell, called on Mr Osborne to make a "critical leap of logic" and treat health and care as a single sector.

Find out more

Read the letter in full.

Discover more about the NHS Confederation's work to secure adequate funding for health and care services.

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