Care sector remains at risk despite funding promises

In his Spending Review, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans he assured would lead to an above-inflation rise in care budgets. However, care leaders from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Care Provider Alliance and the NHS Confederation raised concerns in a letter to the Chancellor that the plans would leave a funding gap.

Care services that include care homes and services that provide help in people’s home for tasks such as washing and dressing, are overseen by local councils.

Official figures show that the number of people getting help from care services has fallen as councils struggle to cope with cuts to their budgets. This comes after Osborne pledged that he would protect social care budgets by allowing local authorities to raise council tax by two per cent. In addition the Chancellor announced that he would increase the amount of money available for the Better Care Fund, money which is used by both councils and the NHS to support care services.

Unlike the NHS, social care is provided in an individual’s home and is not free. Estimated figures suggest one in 10 older people face care service bills in excess of £100,000 over their lifetime. Data shows the number of older and disabled people receiving council help fell by 28 per cent between 2009-10 and 2013-14. Councils spent almost £14 billion last year on services. However, an estimated 1.5 million older people with care needs rely on family and friends for help.

The letter outlines issues regarding variations in the amount of money council tax generates, in addition to poorer areas where local authorities are worse off.

Ray James, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, claimed this meant councils would struggle to maintain care spending at its current level, never mind increase it.

He said: "Councils have tried to prioritise funding for social care ahead of other services. But its ability to do that seems to have come to an end, so I think we will struggle to put much more into social care.”

"If that happens, services will be put at risk. We have an ageing population which is increasing demand and have to cope with the introduction of the National Living Wage. Without action, we will see care homes close and vulnerable people not getting care."

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