Image Credit: Financial Times
Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled his final Spring Budget, offering a £2bn cash boost for social care. This, in a bid to rescue councils from the care crisis. This is Mr. Hammond’s last Spring Budget after he announced last November that the main Budget would move to Autumn, with the Spring announcement becoming much smaller in scale.
The £2bn will be spread across the next three years, with the first £1bn in 2017-18 as a ‘bridge’ to the Better Care Fund, the Chancellor claimed.
During this Parliament the government has already taken a number of steps to help secure a stable system of social care in England by creating the improved Better Care Fund to help support health and social care integration. Also, the government introduced the new social care precept, and provided councils with funding certainty across every year of the Parliament through the Local Government Finance Settlement.
Recognizing the challenges of an ageing and growing population, last year the government introduced short-term measures to support councils to manage adult social care. This included allowing councils to raise funding sooner from the social care precept, whilst continuing to protect local tax payers from large bill increases.
At this Budget, the government is building on these with further support in the medium term. The government will provide an additional £2 billion to councils in England over the next 3 years to spend on adult social care services. £1 billion of this will be provided in 2017-18, ensuring councils can take immediate action to fund care packages for more people, support social care providers, and relieve pressure on the NHS locally. Building on the approach to the Better Care Fund, councils will need to work with their NHS colleagues to consider how the funding can be best spent, and to ensure that best practice is implemented more consistently across the country. This funding will be supplemented with targeted measures to help ensure that those areas facing the greatest challenges make rapid improvement, particularly in reducing delayed transfers of care between NHS and social care services. Overall, local government will be able to increase social care-specific resources in real terms in each of the remaining 3 years of the Parliament.
In the longer term, the government is committed to establishing a fair and more sustainable basis for adult social care, in the face of the future demographic challenges set out in the OBR’s Fiscal Sustainability Report. The government will set out proposals in a green paper to put the system on a more secure and sustainable long term footing.
More On The Budget: Spring Budget 2017