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31.10.16

Any extra Autumn Statement cash must go to social care first, MPs tell chancellor

Members of the Health Select Committee have urgently called on the government to commit more funding to social care in the upcoming Autumn Statement in order to help mitigate the financial crisis facing the NHS.

The five MPs, including Health Select Committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston, repeated concerns in the latest CQC annual report that the social care funding shortage is having a knock-on effect on the NHS.

In a letter sent to chancellor Philip Hammond, they said that the NHS “cannot be expected” to deliver the Five Year Forward View (FYFV), a set of financial reforms intended to eliminate its deficit by 2020, without “urgent action” to improve the state of social care.

The letter added: “Numerous sources testify to the impact of real terms cuts to social care not only on the vulnerable people who rely on care, but also on NHS services.”

The MPs called on the government to provide additional money for the NHS in the Autumn Statement, and said they backed the “emerging consensus” amongst NHS leaders that the money should go to social care first.

The latest NHS Digital figures show that social care spending fell below £17bn for the first time in 2009-10 last year.

The government has given councils the power to raise a new 2% precept on council tax to pay the cost of social care, but the letter said this had been “entirely swallowed up” by the cost of the National Living Wage.

Paul Briddock, director of policy at the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), said the organisation shared the committee’s views that more funding is needed to cope with demand, pointing to 2015 research which revealed 92% of finance directors were sceptical that they would have enough cash to implement the FYFV.

But a government spokesperson said: “The government has backed the NHS’ own plan for the future with a £10bn real-terms increase in its funding a year by 2020-21, helping to ease the pressures on hospitals, GPs, and mental health services. It is wrong to suggest otherwise.

“As the chief executive of NHS England said last year, the case for the NHS has been heard and actively supported.

“We have also allowed local government to increase social care spending by the end of Parliament, with access to up to £3.5bn of new support.”

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Comments

Christine Melsom   31/10/2016 at 13:31

I draw your attention to the iniquitous 2% levy for adult social care added to council tax bills. This will continue until 2020 - not sure if this is compounded but if it is it equates to a whole lot more. Many councils are suggesting that a further two per cent is needed as the last lot just covered the award of the living wage to local government employees. Is this fair? No it is not. Adult social services are something that most of us will use in the years to come. It should therefore be financed through central Government income tax or perhaps a health levy? collected in the same way. This 2% levy has reminded us that under the current system a household with perhaps three, four or even more resident adults pays no more in council tax than that with two, with the result that it could be said that many are not contributing. Is that fair? No it is not. Of course no Government likes to raise income tax but believe me the council tax payer has been the butt of huge rises during its time: it is now essential that everyone paying tax should pay their share.

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