Clive Betts, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, responds to the Autumn Statement.
The Chancellor’s failure to mention adult social care, let alone acknowledge the rapidly growing crisis, in the Autumn Statement today is an absolute disgrace.
Every informed independent commentator, including the government’s own Care Quality Commission and the King’s Fund, the Local Government Association representing councils of all political controls, social care directors, private companies providing social care, and the NHS Chief Executive have all told the government that there is a soaring social care funding gap.
This situation is simply not sustainable. Failure to address it is simply piling further pressure on a NHS which is already being crippled by the failure to acknowledge the scale of the problem.
Independent Age chief executive Janet Morrison said today:
‘The longer we ignore the problem, the worse it will get.
No additional funding has been forthcoming and consequently hundreds of thousands of frail and elderly will continue to suffer as care services are cut back and fall into decline.’
NHS trusts are already significantly in deficit and that’s rising daily. There is a predicted £4.3bn black hole in social care budgets by 2020.
Adult social care – supporting the elderly and those with disabilities - already consumes more than 40% of total council spending.
400,000 fewer people are receiving support now than in 2010, but over 900,000 people in England currently have unmet social care needs, either because the eligibility criteria have been toughened, or because there simply isn’t enough money to provide the support to help people get out of bed or to wash, dress and feed themselves.
In November 2015, George Osborne announced a £1.5bn funding pot for the Better Care Fund (BCF) for use by 2019/20 but he simply ignored requests to make it available now. And now, Philip Hammond has also turned his back on the beleaguered social care system.
The only outcome will be deepening misery for thousand upon thousand of elderly people in every community in the country.