Short-sighted autumn budget misses opportunity to make social care sustainable

Today’s budget overlooks the need to bolster the nation’s fragile social care system, according to the national body representing not-for-profit disability providers.

VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group) welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to delivering the long-awaited Green Paper for adult social care with financial investments including:

  • £650m of grant funding for local councils in 2019/20 and
  • £45m for the disabled facilities grant in 2018/19.

But VODG points out that the financial plans still leaves the social care sector perilously under-funded with people unable to access preventative services and support to help them today.

The sector is under increasing strain, as reflected in recent NHS Digital figures showing that rising demand for adult social care over the last year equates to an additional 5,100 new requests for help per day.

There are 11.5 million disabled people in England, and by 2025 there will be 12.2 million, yet successive governments have failed to adequately fund the sector that supports them. Cumulative adult social care cuts since 2010, for example, total £7bn.

VODG has consistently lobbied for more funding and repeatedly offered to work with government on long-term funding strategies. The group’s latest analysis A stitch in time: the case for funding social care describes in frank detail the growing threat to the nation’s vital care and support services.

Today’s settlement ignores VODG’s previous warnings on issues such as:

  • the lack of a long term and sustainable funding solution for adult social care to cover working age disabled adults and older people
  • the uncertainty facing social care amid Brexit, with less public funding available for social care and instability in the sector’s labour market
  • the need for central government to inspect local councils in serious financial difficulties, ensuring that statutory duties relating to social care are fully met
  • building more accessible and adaptable homes and improving the installation of home adaptations.

VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said:

“Today’s budget takes us a small step forward. But overall the investment announced by the Chancellor is short-sighted. It fails to acknowledge the risks facing a crucial, but woefully under-funded, social care sector delivering support for millions of older and disabled people every day. It is disappointing that the people who rely on essential care services, that enable them to live the lives they choose, have again been overlooked in the nation’s spending plan.”