There is a social care funding crisis now - National Voices responds to the Autumn Statement

Wed, 23 November 2016

National Voices responds to the Government's 2016 Autumn Statement

The Chancellor has delivered his first Autumn Statement, but despite many calls to support a struggling health and care system, he did not announce any additional funding for social care or the NHS.

Commenting on the Government’s 2016 Autumn Statement, Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of National Voices, the coalition of health and care charities, said:

Patients, people who rely on services, charities and professionals have spoken with one voice. And the Government has completely ignored us.

There is a social care funding crisis now. And there is a looming NHS funding crisis that cannot wait until the next Parliament to be sorted. This is not discretionary spending. It is money that is needed to ensure a decent, dignified and safe response to people’s needs for treatment, care and support. Unfortunately, the Government has got it wrong in this Autumn Statement and will need to revisit the funding of health and social care a lot sooner than 2020.

There has been significant pressure on Theresa May and Phillip Hammond to use the first Autumn Statement of their leadership to reverse the significant underfunding of social care.

The call for sustainable levels of social care funding came from all quarters: think tanks such as the King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust, and the Health Foundation, charities including Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society, and Macmillan, professional bodies such as the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons, and representative bodies including the Local Government Association, NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation, amongst others.

Analysis by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services shows that overall investment in social care has already fallen by £4.6 billion since 2010 due to £1.6 billion worth of cash cuts in budgets plus rising costs and growing demand.

Over a million struggling to cope

Figures from Age UK published this month show that well over a million older, ill and disabled people are not getting the care they need, and are struggling to cope at home. In September this year, health and care regulator the Care Quality Commission highlighted that many people are left to fund their own care, providers are unable to deliver services, and it has a knock-on effect on overstretched NHS services as people repeatedly need help due to inadequate care arrangements.

There is also strong evidence that the NHS is under increasing pressure. GPs have seen a 10% increase in patient contacts over the past two years, and between July and September 283,000 more patients attended A&E departments than in the same quarter last year. NHS performance against waiting time targets continues to drop and today Cancer Research UK has warned that long waits for cancer test results could become the norm.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has previously projected that spending on health will fall from 7.2% of GDP in 2015/16 to 6.8% by 2019/20 – a level which many experts, including Don Berwick, former head of the US Institute for Healthcare Improvement, believe to be below what is realistic for a modern, developed economy.

National Voices worked with its member organisations to develop and submit recommendations to the Treasury ahead of today’s Autumn Statement. The coalition of charities called for sustainable levels of health and social care funding and a redistribution of those funds to the areas that people most need to stay well, including primary care and preventative support.

Notes

For further information, contact Andrew McCracken, National Voices’ Head of Communications, on 020 3176 0737 or andrew.mccracken@nationalvoices.org.uk.