Chancellor Philip Hammond has promised additional grant funding of £2bn over the next three years in an attempt to plug England’s social care budget gap.
Some £1bn of that pot will be made available in 2017/18 – but that is just half of the estimated £2bn funding gap for adult social care for the coming financial year.
Mr Hammond said the cash injection would allow local authorities to ‘act now to commission new packages’ and would form a bridge to tide councils over until more money is made available as part of the Better Care Fund later this parliament.
The chancellor admitted the social care system was ‘clearly under pressure’ after total real term cuts from 2010/11 to 2015/16 of £1.1bn.
Chief executive of older people’s charity Independent Age, Janet Morrison, said: ‘The Government has committed the bare minimum to fund social care. While it is, of course, welcome, no one should be under the illusion that it will do anything more than shore up a crumbling system.’
But Mr Hammond insisted the crisis facing social care was ‘not only about money’.
With just 24 local authorities responsible for more than half of all delayed discharges to social care, Mr Hammond said communities secretary Sajid Javid and health secretary Jeremy Hunt would announce ‘measures to identify and support authorities which are struggling, and to ensure more joined up working with the NHS’.
To support this £325m capital funding will be made available to ‘pioneering’ sustainability and transformation plans (STP), with a further multi-year capital investment programme to support implementation of ‘high-quality’ STPs to be announced in the autumn Budget.
Mr Hammond also announced a green paper would be published later this year, which would include options for financing a new long-term strategic approach to social care, but he added this would not include ‘exhuming Labour’s hated death tax’.
Earlier, at prime minister’s question time, Theresa May denied Surrey CC had received a ‘special deal that was not available to other councils’ after a leaked recording of council leader David Hodge suggested otherwise.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a record of all one-to-one meetings between the Government and councils to be published.
But Ms May hit back: ‘If he’s looking to uncover a conspiracy I suggest he looks behind him.’