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Public support ‘compelling evidence’ for increased social care spending

More than 80% of the British public support an increase in social care spending, new figures reveal.

The new study, ‘Securing the future: Funding health and social care to the 2030s,’ carried out by the Health Foundation and Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), sets out “strong evidence” for an increase in spending, according to NHS Confederation, which commissioned the study.

It highlights that since 2010, spending on adult social care has fallen, despite a growing demand and ageing population.

In order to continue to the current level of service provision for the projected demand, which are expected to rise by around £18bn by 2033-34, the minimum required be 3.9% annual increases in spending.

New polling data by IPSOS Mori for the NHS Confederation shows that 82% of the British public support a 3.9% increase in social care spending, and more than three quarters support a 4% increase to help meet the growing demand and make some “modest improvements.”

The NHS Confederation argues that social care funding must also rise to tackle problems facing the health service, including the rising numbers of emergency admissions and patients facing delayed discharges as a result of spending cuts.

Since 2009-10, local authorities have faced cuts in their funding, with many responding by tightening their eligibility criteria and concentrating care and support on those with the highest needs, meaning that over 400,000 fewer people accessed publicly funded social care in 2016-17 than seven years earlier, the Confederation said.

Consequently, there are huge variations in spending per adult in local authorities across the country, and in 2015-16, social care spending per adult was 31% lower in England than in Scotland – an increase from 2011-12 when the gap was 19%.

The gap between spending in England and Northern Ireland is even greater.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that the findings “demolish” the idea that the current system and funding levels are sustainable.

He explained: “We were promised radical reform of social care but yet again nothing has been forthcoming. This has been an area of failure by successive governments which has let down millions of elderly and vulnerable people. Now the delays and dithering have to stop.

“Our report has sparked an important debate among politicians and the public about the future of health and social care in this country and demonstrated how dependent they are on each other.”

The choice is either significant investment or, at best, a period of managed decline,” he added.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, blamed the sector’s “precarious state” on eight years of austerity.

“The government has signalled that it will provide a much-needed funding increase for the NHS, but health and social care are inextricably linked,” she said.

Responding to the report, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “These findings show that the public very much gets the need to invest genuinely new money into the services that provide invaluable support for older and disabled people.

“This will require big, brave and bold decision-making if we are to tackle the crisis in adult social care, which needs cross-party consensus if we are to succeed.”

Top image: vm


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