Care levy won’t save battling providers

Vital cash from a £36bn fund to aid health and social care won’t come soon enough to save some struggling providers, The Independent Care Group warned today.

The Health and Social Care Levy begins today, raising funds from an increase in National Insurance to raise the £36bn which will be spent on health and care in the coming three years.

But the ICG today warned that social care’s share of that funding won’t get through quickly enough to save some providers.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Reports suggest social care won’t see much of this new fund for some years when many providers need it right now.

“A lack of investment, the crippling cost of living rises, the pandemic and the slow recovery of care take-up and occupancy levels are combining to create a perfect storm and some care and nursing homes and homecare providers will not survive it. Then the vital role social care and its staff perform, alongside NHS care, will be under severe threat.

“We cannot have a strong and viable NHS system without a strong and viable social care sector, and at the moment that isn’t being supported.”

Reports suggest that just £5.4bn of the fund will go to social care over the next three years, with much of that taken up by implementing a fair cost of care initiative and paying for the £86,000 cap on care costs.

Providers’ battle to survive has been dealt a further blow, with the ending of the infection control fund (£1.3bn) and testing fund (£288m), both introduced to help providers through the Covid-19 pandemic, the ICG says.

Mr Padgham added: “Covid-19 hasn’t gone away and it is still creating heartache and hardship for care providers, both in care and nursing homes and for homecare providers, who are struggling to deliver contracts.

“The Levy is very welcome, but it must be divided fairly and social care must get what it needs, urgently.

“The Prime Minister is right to say that we can’t fix hospital waiting lists without fixing social care – but he is wrong if he thinks he is fixing social care through the measures announced so far. He is a long, long way from it.

“And the Chancellor saying the Government will not shy away from difficult decisions to fix social care – I would say that the Government is doing exactly that, tinkering at the edges and failing to give the sector the root and branch reform and better funding it needs to provide a proper service and to recognise, respect and reward its staff properly.”