The social care sector has given a mixed reaction to the Prime Minister’s historic social care announcement yesterday.
MPs are set to vote later today on the PM’s plans to raise £12bn a year for health and social care through a 1.25% rise in national insurance.
While welcoming long-awaited reform of the sector, some leaders expressed disappointment at the level of funding set to be allocated to social care, which has been set at £5.4bn over three years with more promised to follow.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said the promised money did not “even come close” to meeting what is needed.
Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum, highlighted the initial apportionment of funding fell “well short” of the additional £7bn funding requirements identified by the Health and Care Committee.
Dr Sanjeev Kanoria, Founder and Chairman, Advinia Health Care, warned: “In order to break the vicious cycle of care home closures that put immense pressure on expensive NHS hospital beds, it is crucial that stipulations are put in place to ensure that this extra funding does not get swallowed up by the NHS or by local authorities.”
Stewart Stretton-Hill, Tax, Trusts and Estates senior associate at Irwin Mitchell, said the reforms were “a mixed bag” and were “essentially a watered-down version of the Dilnot Commission back from 2010”, while lacking “specifics about attracting quality, qualified individuals into the profession”.
Stewart said the tax reforms were “totally unfair” and targeted at those “hardest hit by the pandemic”.
Anita Charlesworth, Health Foundation Director of Research and the REAL Centre, welcomed the £86,000 cap on social costs as a “positive and bold step forward” that will “provide people with greater certainty about the future costs they need to plan for and help reduce the care cost lottery”, but added funding fell “well short of what is needed to stabilise the current system and deliver the comprehensive reform that is so desperately needed”.
Similarly, while acknowledging the reforms as “a clear improvement”, the IPPR said new funds should be raised through income tax or increasing taxes on the wealthy.
The thinktank said the reforms also “ducked the question” of reforming social care, including higher pay and quality of services, and fell well short of putting the sector on the same basis as the NHS.
More positive reaction came from Nick Clarke, Head of Social Care Consulting, Grant Thornton UK LLP, who said: “The increase in national insurance announced today, or the new ‘health and social care levy’, should make a marked difference in the level of funding available to the social care sector, enabling better access to equipment, better quality of care and improved service delivery.”
John Tonkiss, CEO of McCarthy Stone said the PM’s announcement demonstrated the government was “starting to grasp that nettle”.
While sharing concerns about funding, Caroline Abrahams, co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance and Charity Director of Age UK, said: “At last there’s some hope for a better future and we all stand to gain, since any of us, at any age, could develop a need for care.
“If the Prime Minister’s proposals are put into action he will deserve real credit for breaking a log jam that has held back social care reform for far too long. The intense debate about how to pay for it must not obscure the paramount importance of action being taken now to stabilise and rebuild care, especially after its terrible mauling by COVID-19.”