The 2016 Autumn Statement failed to tackle the serious funding crisis affecting adult social care.
Rob Jarrett, a local Green Party campaigner and former chair of Brighton and Hove Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils have been starved of cash since 2010. Social services are unable to cope with the demands of an ageing population. This has a knock on effect on the NHS as more vulnerable adults end up in hospital and then can’t be discharged when they are ready to go home.”
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party co-leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion, has accused the Government of ‘shirking its responsibilities’ and having ‘deeply skewed priorities’.
She said: “Britain is drifting towards the stormy and unchartered waters of Brexit with ministers refusing to reveal the route, or properly adjust the sails according to the headwinds.
“We needed an Autumn statement which rose to the challenges of the day, but we see a government shirking its responsibilities, lacking any moral compass and leaving us dangerously exposed to both economic shocks and climate change.
“This Autumn statement shows a Government with deeply skewed priorities. At a time of uncertainty they are continuing with plans to give a tax cut to corporations and the highest earners – while our NHS is strapped for cash and local services are under immense strain. We could save billions by scrapping the plans to cut corporate tax and raising the threshold for the highest earners – and we could plough that money into our ailing NHS – but the Government has refused to change course.”
Ray James, Immediate Past President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “The Government’s failure to provide desperately needed extra funding for adult social care means that this winter and throughout next year we will inevitably see more older and disabled people not getting the care and support they rely upon to survive each day, an even greater toll being placed on the 6.5 million family members and other carers, increasing delays in the NHS, and even more care homes closing and growing gaps and failures in the care market.
“Money in the last two years of this parliament comes too late to help nearly 2 million people who rely on care and support.
“The Government has plainly ignored a wide range of respected voices; The Care Quality Commission, The National Audit Office, The Health Select Committee, professional bodies, charities, care providers, independent experts and leading figures in the NHS.
“We urge the Chancellor to take immediate steps to bring forward the funding needed to ensure that older and disabled people can get the care and support they need each and every day of their lives.”
Lord Porter, chair of the Local Government Association, said the Government must take urgent action to fund social care properly, if councils are to stand any chance of protecting care services for elderly and vulnerable people. Porter said that extra council tax-raising powers would not bring in enough money to alleviate the pressure on social care and that councils will not receive most of the new funding in the Better Care Fund until the end of the decade, but services for elderly and vulnerable people are at breaking point now.
The Association of Directors and Adult Social Services (Adass) has forecast that local councils will overspend almost £500m in adult social care as the crisis deepens.
The New Local Government Network welcomed the 30p increase in the living wage from £7.20 an hour to £7.50, but director Adam Lent warned that this would also push up the cost of delivering social care, putting increasing strain on local authorities that have already seen their budgets slashed.
Similar disappointment came from Jo Miller, president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers and chief executive of Doncaster Council, who said Hammond had failed to address “the elephant in the room’ – funding for the social care system.
The Government has now announced that councils will have to put up council tax by up to 5% if they want any more cash to deal with the funding crisis. Rob Jarrett said, “This is a complete shirking of responsibility and shows that the government does not care about vulnerable people.”