The Government has been urged to confirm the £2bn social care funding announced in yesterday’s Budget is ‘new money’ and not taken from other local government allocations.
Clive Betts, chair of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee, welcomed the money but said it falls ‘well short’ of the £1.5bn needed to plug the funding gap next year.
He added: ‘The Government should provide explicit confirmation that the funding today is new money. From the Budget documents it is not clear this is the case.
‘The announcement of a Green Paper on social care in the long term is welcome but to provide an effective solution to the challenges for our social care system this should be part of an urgent review, undertaken on a cross-party basis.’
The Local Government Association (LGA) also said any long-term review of social care must be implemented this time and not ignored like previous white papers.
‘The Government’s commitment to publishing a Green Paper to explore options for a long-term solution is recognition of this but councils are clear that it cannot end up being kicked into the long grass like other social care reviews, inquiries, commissions and their recommendations have been in the past decade,’ said Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA.
‘With councils facing further funding pressures and growing demand for support by the end of the decade, this is the last chance we have to get this right.’
Katie Johnston, public sector director at KPMG, also said the small print of the budget would need to be examined to ensure the funding isn’t coming from other local government allocations.
She added: ‘Meanwhile, the proposed Green paper risks rehashing the outcomes of a Royal Commission and two previous white papers, none of which have been implemented. Without real reform in community health care and social care, the additional funds and the capital announced today risk propping up the old system that doesn’t work instead of building a new one that does.’
Jenni Richards QC, a barrister at 39 Essex Chambers, also echoed fears that the announcement wasn’t anything but a ‘short-term sticking plaster’.
She said: ‘The last 11 years have seen proposals for reform from three independent commissions but their proposals have not been translated into action. The chancellor’s promise of a green paper provides no hint as to longer-term strategies save that the so-called ‘death tax’ has been ruled out.’
Cathy Kerr explains how the social care sector is moving forward with optimism, despite the barrage of challenges it faces (£).