Care News – November 17

Government urged to address care funding

Health organisations are urging the government to address the ‘critical’ state of health and social care funding in the Autumn Budget.

Nuffield Trust, the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund are calling on the government to recognise the immediate funding pressures facing the sector in 2018/19, which they say will see NHS funding growth fall to its lowest level in this parliament.

The organisations say that social care remains on the brink of crisis and, based on the latest available data, they estimate there will be a £2.5 billion funding gap by 2019/20.

They also claim the government must also act to close the growing funding gaps facing the health and care system, which are now having a clear impact on access to care.

Campaigners fear that unless additional funding is found, more people will be denied access to care and pressures will increase for service users, their families and carers.

Health campaigners also believe that short-term tactics to contain spending have more than run their course, and that after seven years of austerity the government must demonstrate it has a credible medium-term strategy to better match the resources for the health and care service with the demands it faces.

Members of the Nuffield Trust, the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund have called for a more strategic and independent assessment of the pressures facing services.

They say a new independent body – modelled on the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) – should be established to identify the long-term health care needs of the population and the staffing and funding required to meet these needs.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Spring Budget that the government would draw up a ‘Green Paper’ – a series of proposals for discussion – on how best to integrate health and social care.

The findings of the Green Paper will be revealed during the Autumn Budget on November 22.


National Insurance increase could generate £5billion for social care

An increase of 1 per cent to National Insurance (NI) contributions could bring in £5billion of extra funding to help bolster the social care sector.

Older people’s charity Independent Age found that a countrywide increase in tax would be the most “progressive and politically achievable” option to help councils fund care.

According to the report, the social care funding gap could top £2.7billion by 2020/21 as demand rises and the complexity of problems within the system increase.

The research, completed in association with progressive think tank the Institute For Public Policy Research (IPPR), compared NI contributions to increasing inheritance tax, removing the triple lock on pensions and means-testing the Winter Fuel Payment.

Increasing NI contributions would cost the poorest working-class families in Britain around £20 each year, while the richest 10 per cent in the country would see an extra £1,220 in contributions.

Independent Age found that means-testing the Winter Fuel Payment would raise just £1.8billion, which is not enough to plug the estimated funding gap.

In addition, moving from a triple to a double lock on pensions would create no immediate additional revenue.

Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged an extra £2 billion for social care in the Spring Budget. The government has also enabled local authorities to raise council tax levels by up to 3 per cent to help fund social care.

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