Autumn Statement leaves social care out in the cold again

SOCIAL care providers have again been left out in the cold worrying how they will meet the new minimum wage for their staff and struggling to survive, the Independent Care Group says.

The crisis in social care was again ignored in the Government’s Autumn Statement, leaving providers facing an uncertain future.

The ICG said the Chancellor could at the very least have put some funding into the pockets of local authorities to help meet an unexpectedly large rise in the National Living Wage.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Another Autumn Statement and another kick in the teeth for social care.

“Once again, an opportunity has been lost to make some inroads into the reform of social care that the country has been crying out for this past 30-plus years.

“It seems help for social care is just one of many issues sacrificed as the Government looked instead to cut taxes, ostensibly to get the economy moving but really with a view to the looming General Election.

“Everyone, especially providers, wants to see the social care workforce properly paid – they deserve much more than that minimum wage. But it will have to be paid for. Providers had expected the increase to be to around £11 an hour but the increase to £11.44 is almost 10%, a huge extra financial burden for social care providers who are struggling to survive in the post-covid, high cost of living period we are struggling through.

“Unless that increased minimum wage is matched by more generous funding for local authorities who can pass that money on to the social care providers they commission care from, the situation is going to get worse. We will see providers who are currently on the brink pushed over the edge by this increased cost. And that will mean a further loss of care provision at a time when we need it most.

“The Chancellor could at least have put some funding into the coffers of local authorities to address that.”

When Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was its Chair, the Health and Social Care Committee said social care needed an extra £7bn a year as a ‘starting point’.

The ICG had urged Mr Hunt to make good on that suggestion today.

Mr Padgham added: “Nobody knows better what is needed for social care than Mr Hunt himself and so we looked to him to tackle social care in the statement.

“Not for the first time we have been left disappointed, out in the cold and looking at an uncertain future.

“The crisis in the sector deepens, with fewer and fewer people getting care, less and less homecare, residential and nursing care available and delayed discharges from hospitals rising once again.”

The ICG has set out its priorities for reform in its Five Pillars of Social Care Reform document to help the 1.6m people who currently can’t get the care they need. The five pillars are:

 

  • Ring fence a percentage of GDP to be spent on providing social

care to those who already receive it and the 1.6m who can’t get it

  • Create a unified National Care Service, incorporating health and

social care

  • Set a National Minimum Wage per hour for care staff on a par

with NHS

  • Set up an urgent social care task force to oversee reform
  • Fix ‘fair price for care’ tariffs for things like care beds and

homecare visits.