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A missed opportunity

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England

Care England, the largest and most diverse representative body for independent providers of adult social care in England, has today described the Spring Budget announced by the Chancellor as another ‘missed opportunity’.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:
“The Autumn Statement announced £7.5 billion for the social care sector over the next two years, aimed at creating an additional 200,000 new care packages, supporting the discharge of people from hospital to ease NHS backlog, whilst also being split across adult and child services. Care England’s recent Fair Cost of Care analysis shows that, even with this funding, the deficit for older person’s residential and nursing home stands at around £2bn per annum. While the £7.5bn represented a step in the right direction, the Spring Budget was an opportunity to reinforce this progress and move towards a sustainable funding settlement for the sector. It was an opportunity that, unfortunately, the Government did not take, with a notable lack of any announcements targeted at the sector. Against the backdrop of a workforce crisis and rising vacancies, the rising cost of living and increasing energy costs, the stabilisation of the adult social care sector should be the Government’s priority in the coming months. The NHS cannot survive in the long term if the social care sector is unsustainable. A political consensus must be forged on how to fund and support our vital sector sustainably over the long term.”

Care England made the following representations for the 2023 Spring Budget:

  • Zero-rate VAT for Welfare Services to enable care providers to recover input VAT.
  • Provide enhanced support for energy costs and remove the 5% VAT surcharge and Climate change Levy on energy bills.
  • Make EBSS AF payments directly to social care providers, not those in receipt of care who are not directly responsible for paying energy bills.
  • Establish a national tariff of £1,500 per week to be imposed for a specified period and clear care needs specifications to aid hospital discharges.
  • Actualise a fully funded 10-year workforce vision, as set out in the People at the Heart of Care white paper.
  • Introduce a Government-developed pay framework to establish a minimum care wage, above the level of the NLW and ties to NHS band 3.
  • Increase the number of VISA allocations given to care providers, at a reduced cost to aid in lowering the number of vacancies within the care sector.
  • Confirm what will happen to the minimum salary set for care workers entering the UK via the Shortage Occupation List route (previously set above the NLW), once the NLW rises to £10.42 from 1 April 2023.
  • Allow care works to work full-time hours without losing access to benefits.

In his announcement of the Spring Budget today, the Chancellor set out measures including scrapping the lifetime allowance on tax-free pension contributions; the expansion of 30 hours of free childcare a week for working parents to cover children below the age of three; a £27bn tax cut for business through a new ‘full expensing’ policy and capital allowances reform; and, funding for up to 50,000 places on new voluntary employment scheme for disabled people, called Universal Support. Other notable announcements included the freezing of fuel duty for another year and the extension of domestic energy support for a further 3 months, limiting typical household energy bills to £2,500 a year.

Martin Green continues…
“Social care is vital for the future of local people and local economies. It supports some of society’s most vulnerable, often living with lifelong conditions and is a source of employment for millions of hardworking, dedicated people across England. Social care must become a priority for the country. With an ageing population and demand for services to increase, the Government requires a sustainable roadmap for the social care sector that will meet the country’s social needs and support the NHS in reducing waiting lists. Care England will continue to work pragmatically to present solutions which seek to resolve the issues faced by all those within the sector and those who draw on care and support. Investment in the sector is key and will only be achieved with a clear long-term care strategy which is properly funded, and we hope that the forthcoming Implementation Plan, due to be published in Spring, delivers on this.”

Kirsty

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