Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green has done an exceptional job representing the care industry in the lead up to yesterday’s Spending Review.
He certainly has the ear of front bench MP Jane Ellison, parliamentary undersecretary of state for public health. He has also taken his case to the media – gaining coverage in major national newspapers this week and an interview with the BBC.
The question though is, has it worked? On balance, I would say yes.
Chancellor George Osborne faced a barrage of lobbying ahead of the Spending Review. The NHS, as ever, secured a settlement even better than promised at the General Election because they have the ultimate argument: turn off the money taps and people will die.
The police were handed an equally powerful lever with the horrific terrorist atrocities in Paris reminding people that the thin blue line is all that stands between us and a massacre. It would have been almost impossible for Osborne to cut police funding this week, so he didn’t.
With the case still to be made for bombing Islamic State in Syria, it would have been just as difficult to ramp up our military efforts while cutting their financial support. So he didn’t do that either.
All these commitments made it doubly hard for a disparate and easy to ignore cohort like the very old to be overlooked. That they weren’t in no small part down to the efforts of Professor Green, who has been tirelessly promoting the need to deal with the current funding crisis.
In the last Parliament, the government imposed a rule that councils could not increase council taxes by more than 2% without holding a referendum. This rule has been amended this week so local tax can be raised by an additional 2%, but only if the revenue is channelled directly into social care.
The Treasury says that if all local authorities use this “precept” to its maximum effect it could help raise nearly £2 billion a year by 2019.
The good news didn’t stop there. From 2017 the Spending Review makes available social care funds for local government, rising to £1.5 billion by 2019-20, to be included in an improved Better Care Fund.
“Taken together, the new precept and additional local government Better Care Fund contribution mean local government has access to the funding it needs to increase social care spending in real terms by the end of the Parliament,” the Spending Review states.
“This will support councils to continue to focus on core services and to increase the prices they pay for care, including to cover the costs of the National Living Wage, which is expected to benefit up to 900,000 care workers,” the Review adds, picking up another theme championed by Professor Green.
Reading today’s newspaper and social media coverage, it is clear that not everybody is satisfied with the outcome of the Spending Review, but Care England’s response has been was comparatively (although it may be about to unleash a blistering attack once the numbers have been crunched).
All it has said so far, via its Twitter page, is: “The Chancellors announcements do not provide the funding Social Care needs”.
There are certainly still challenges and nobody is suggesting that the care industry doesn’t still need more money. But that should not detract from what I see as a successful campaign to pressure the government to accept the need to increase funding, and to go some way towards addressing.
Professor Green and Care England will continue their relentless campaign, and should do so in the knowledge that their efforts are working.