Councils are calling on the new prime minister to honour her promise to put £13 billion into social care, as government plans to scrap the newly introduced national insurance levy were confirmed.
Ahead of today’s mini-budget, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said the tax hike – introduced in April to pay for social care and tackle the NHS backlog – will be reversed from 6 November.
Earlier this week, Liz Truss said her “first priority” on social care is properly funding it over the winter because there are “too many” people staying in hospital due to a lack of spaces.
On the campaign trail, she pledged to put £13 billion into social care.
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On Thursday, Health and Social Care Secretary Therese Coffey announced a £500 million social care discharge fund which she described as a “down payment” pending the development of longer-term plans.
But the Local Government Association (LGA) said £6 billion is needed immediately to increase care worker pay, meet demographic and inflationary pressures and stabilise the provider market, with the rest needed “urgently”.
The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, called for the government to make a “fresh start” on social care reform.
Chairman Mike Padgham said the mini-budget must set out how the government will fund the long-term reform of the sector, as well as provide measures to help care homes and homecare providers survive the cost-of-living crisis.
He said: “We need urgent help now and reform further ahead.
“Care can’t close, it can’t economise any more than it already has, it has to keep going, keep helping people and keep supporting the NHS.
“We have reached a point where we can’t keep going any longer.”
A perfect storm amid the cost of living crisis
With a new prime minister and health and social care secretary in place, he added: “It is time for a fresh, bold new start on tackling the crisis in social care – they have been talking the talk, now let’s see them walk the walk.”
Earlier this week the County Councils Network (CCN), which represents 36 mainly Conservative councils, also called on Ms Truss to honour her commitment.
It said services face a “perfect storm” of staffing shortages, fewer available beds, higher costs, and rising demand, meaning people are waiting for longer for care, at a time when there is the perception that social care has been “fixed” by the reforms already announced.
It warned that the cost-of-living crisis could add £3.7 billion to the costs of delivering social care – more than double the expected rise.