Kari Gerstheimer, CEO and Founder of Access Social Care
We have had three Prime Ministers, four Chancellors in as many months, and musical chairs in the Department for Health and Social Care.
Then with all the noise and drama around ex-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s fiasco statement – sorry, his Fiscal Statement – and the 45p tax cut that never was, it’s hardly surprising that the likely overall impact on those of us already struggling is being overlooked.
But we are currently in a situation where chaos and confusion reigns and where crucial sectors, such as adult social care, are left in limbo, uncertain where promised funding is coming from, or whether it is coming at all.
This is only adding to the fear people are already feeling, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact on day-to-day living.
During his short tenure as Chancellor, Kwarteng confirmed that the Health & Social Care Levy was being scrapped just a year after being announced.
The levy, to be funded by the 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance contributions, was expected to raise around £13 billion a year to fund health and social care, which could have made a real difference to millions of people in need, especially the lives of disabled people and their carers.
But the NI rise, like the levy itself, has also been scrapped – by the same Government which only recently voted to introduce it.
So where does this leave us? When the Government scrapped the Health & Social Care Levy, they insisted ‘the additional funding for the NHS and social care services will be maintained at the same level.’
To which begs the question – how? From the reaction of markets around the world we have seen exactly what the reaction is to pledges which are made without solid projections and costings backing them up.
The need for economic stability and increased funding is ever more apparent to charities like Access Social Care, as this fiscal turmoil continues to hit us hard. By putting the third sector at risk it risks further damage to the lives of those we aim to support.
Boris Johnson promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’. Instead, Liz Truss’s government created economic turmoil and no concrete details of how anything is to be financed. Enter our next Number 10 occupant, Rishi Sunak.
What I ask of Sunak is to take bold, necessary action to guarantee a sustained long-term funding plan for the adult social care system, ensuring that everyone has access to social care, and local authorities have the financial capacity to cope with soaring demand in the face of a cost of living crisis.
He must step up and allocate the financing needed to protect the lives of those reliant on a system in distress. But he needs to do so with a proper budget, a solid forecast and by bringing stress-tested economic projections into the picture. To do otherwise is to leave people with false hope and very real worries for the future, and to make a precarious situation far, far worse.