Charities react to the Spending Round: ‘It only buys time and does not fix the problem’

05 Sep 2019 News

Sajid Javid

The chancellor, Sajid Javid, has promised “a decade of renewal” after he set out plans for government spending in the new spending round. He said there will be an extra £13.8bn in public spending for 2020-21.

“We will bring about a decade of renewal. We will build a global Britain where we will walk tall,” he said.

Javid has said local councils will get £1.5bn for social care next year “to help stabilise the system”, and has said £54m will be made available to help tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. The chancellor added that he will increase NHS spending by £6.2bn next year, with £210m more for frontline NHS staff.

But the sector has warned that this money will not be enough to fix long-term issues. 

"This government will improve social justice and create opportunity for all," he said.

Here are charities responding to the chancellor's first Spending Round statement.

Campaigning and service delivery charities

MS Society: ‘the new money for social care is a stopgap measure’

Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said: “The new money for social care is a stopgap measure that will just paper over the cracks. Until we see a long-term funding solution, people with MS will continue struggling without basic care to eat, wash or dress. While  there are no more planned welfare cuts next year, the support people have already lost from PIP continues to have a devastating impact, costing the government more than they save – so it makes no financial sense to keep denying this support. 

“MS is relentless, painful and disabling, and thousands have been driven to misery during this decade of cuts. Both social care and disability benefits are vital lifelines that must be a priority for the government.”

Action for Children: ‘We’re heading for a decade of crisis for children’

Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, said: “Far from a decade of renewal as the chancellor promised, we’re heading for a decade of crisis for children.
“By failing to fix the funding gap in children’s services today, the chancellor has left our most vulnerable children without the right support - facing traumas like abuse and neglect while struggling to get the early help they need. More children reaching crisis point also means more pressure on our over-stretched nurses, teachers and police officers.
“The only way to tackle this country’s growing crisis in childhood is for the government to invest in our children’s services on a long term and sustainable basis. It can do this by establishing a National Childhood Strategy so the prime minister can get a grip on these issues, backed with funding for urgently needed services to keep children safe from harm.”

Alzheimer’s Society: ‘Government hasn’t done enough’

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We’re disappointed that the Government hasn’t done enough today to deliver the change so desperately needed by people with dementia and their families.  Our pleas for an NHS Dementia Fund have yet to become funding commitments, despite the backing of hundreds of MPs and over 100,000 campaigners in the letter the Prime Minister received on Monday.  £1bn can only stave off the utter collapse of our social care system, neglected by successive Governments for so long.

“On Monday the prime minister assured us that he will sort out dementia care, once and for all. He agreed  that people with dementia must be treated the same as those with other health conditions. We now need to see concrete plans for reform that address the unfair and catastrophic care costs for people with dementia, and the daily battle that they and their families face to get the care and support they so badly need.”

Ambitious about Autism: ‘The scale of underfunding is a lot greater than £700m’

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, said:  “While additional funding for children with SEND including autism is welcome, sadly the scale of underfunding is a lot greater than £700m. The recent report from the Commons Education Committee clearly points to a high-needs deficit of more than £1bn by 2021. 
“We also need to ensure that the overall education system and funding is geared to meet the needs of autistic children. There are more than 130,000 autistic pupils in our education system, with 70 per cent of them in mainstream schools. It is therefore vital that additional funding for SEN support is audited to ensure it is spent on supporting these young people to learn, thrive and achieve.  
“We need schools to be more autism-confident and for there to be greater accountability in the universal funding system. Without this, we will continue to see more pressure on specialist support services, which impacts on the high needs funding that local authorities have. While this additional funding will help, it will not provide the boost Prime Minister Boris Johnson has talked about, which means children with autism will continue to be left out and left behind. 
“In the long term, funding for SEND and the high needs allocation must meet and keep pace with the increasing demand and support needs of all children and young people with autism in early years, schools and colleges.” 

Depaul UK: ‘We are extremely disappointed’

Mike Thiedke, cheif executive at Depaul, said: “We are extremely disappointed the government has not announced an end to the five-week wait for Universal Credit. Funding to make Universal Credit work better for people who are homeless will help, but the five-week wait will still force vulnerable young people without a home to choose between taking on debt or trying to survive with no money whatsoever.

“It’s also disappointing that no action has been taken to raise local housing allowance to match rents. The gap between rents and housing benefit is trapping young people in homelessness. This gap means it will remain very hard for councils to help young people find housing, despite the welcome new £54m to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness. The government urgently needs to address these welfare system problems.”
He added: “Depaul wants to work with the government to bring an end to youth homelessness. To achieve this, we need investment in emergency accommodation services such as Nightstop, family services which help young people and their parents to live together, and housing and homelessness education in schools.”

Leonard Cheshire: ‘It only buys time and does not fix the problem’

Chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, Neil Heslop, said: “The additional £1bn pledged for social care, on top of the £500m from social care precepts, will help a system at breaking point. But we all need to recognise it only buys time and does not fix the problem. With demand set to rise by almost 4 per cent a year, this will not provide relief for long. The prime minister promised to fix social care and those of us whose lives depend on decent care- approximately half of whom are working-age disabled adults- need him to keep his promise and deliver fair, long-term sustainable reforms as a matter of urgency.
“Our existing system simply does not work; more than half of disabled people tell us they don’t receive the care they need and the NHS continues to bear the brunt of the care shortfall. We desperately need our political leaders of all parties to do their duty now by working closely with disabled people to find a real solution. Brexit may seem all-encompassing, but the social care timebomb is ticking.”

Shelter: 'Danger this becomes a plan to solve homelessness without any new homes'

Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “We welcome yesterday’s new funding to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping but there is a danger this becomes a plan to solve homelessness without any new homes. If the government is to tackle the housing emergency it is going to need to be more ambitious which is why the promised ‘infrastructure revolution’ has to include 3 million new social homes.” 

United Response: 'A long-term sustainable approach is now needed'

United Response chief executive, Tim Cooper, said: “The Chancellor’s announcement this week of £1.5bn for councils to use in social care is a vital shot in the arm for the sector. But piecemeal investment to merely ‘stabilise the system’, as the Chancellor himself concedes, is simply not enough.

“The current adult social care system is in a critical condition and vital services for people with learning disabilities and autism or at serious risk of collapse. Real investment and a long-term, sustainable approach is now needed more than ever – instead, the continued absence of the much-delayed green paper leaves the sector scratching its head. 

“Government must bring forward its plans for adult social care without any further delay and set about tackling a funding crisis threatening a long-suffering sector and the many thousands of lives depending on it.”


NHS Confederation: ‘Funding is welcome but substantially short of the £6bn needed'

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: “Today’s Spending Round provides some much-needed extra funding for the NHS and social care, particularly to invest in new equipment and facilities and to help attract and retain staff through additional cash for training. But these are sticking plaster solutions and do not provide the long-term certainty the NHS needs. Funding still falls short in key areas, including capital investment, social care and public health. Public health in particular has suffered major cuts in recent years and we have an extremely long way to go before that is recovered.
“Some may believe the NHS funding debate is settled following last year’s announcement of £20.5 billion of new funding. But other key areas of health spending were not included and they have only been partially addressed in this Spending Round.
“The extra £1.8bn in capital funding is welcome but substantially short of the £6bn needed to clear the massive maintenance backlog that has built up in recent years. The government must increase capital funding to ensure all NHS organisations can access capital investment to address crumbling buildings, failing equipment and outdated IT.

“The additional cash for training and retaining nurses is also welcome but it’s a drop in the ocean. It is not nearly enough to cover the lost funding for continuing professional development that we have seen in recent years and it will not, on its own, address the staffing crisis the NHS is facing.

“The £1.5bn of extra funding for councils to cover social care is a start but it’s barely enough to enable local social care services to limp on for another year. This hand-to-mouth existence falls well short of what is needed to ensure thousands of vulnerable people, who are not getting the support they need, are cared for. The fact that £500m of this is dependent on precepts is also disappointing: this risks penalising less affluent areas, where it is much harder to raise funds in this way.” 

Charities Aid Foundation: 'The uncertainty of Brexit continues to loom'

Sir John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), said: “This is of course good news for the charities involved, while the spending round also includes an increase in funding for the Charity Commission from £24.9m to £27.3m. Strong and effective governance is essential to ensure the charity sector remains both robust and accountable.

“But it cannot be ignored that the uncertainty of Brexit continues to loom and charities rightly worry about the impact on their ability to attract vital donations so that they can continue to deliver essential services.

“Given that our research shows that 69 per cent of people believe charities play an important role in society, it is disappointing not to see any direct recognition of a need to protect this integral part of our economy.”

The funding announced in the spending round comes after a survey of senior leaders of charities across the UK released by CAF earlier this year found that 83 per cent of charities saw an increased demand for their services in the previous 12 months, whilst 92 per cent of chief executives said they felt charities were expected to fill gaps in the provision of public services.

Locality: 'It doesn’t address the profound lack of power and ownership that has been felt by many'

Tony Armstrong, chief executive at Locality, said: “The chancellor today promised an 'infrastructure revolution'. For at least a decade we have seen the hollowing out of our vital community and civic infrastructure. Our community spaces sold off by cash strapped councils. Our local services cut to the bone. We need investment on a wide scale to stitch back the fabric of our neighbourhoods. This is why Locality have been leading calls for a £1bn Community Ownership Fund – to invest in our community spaces and boost community ownership. 
"For too long our economic model has not benefitted all communities equally. The current government’s commitments to a Towns Fund is a small part of tackling this. But it doesn’t address the profound lack of power and ownership that has been felt by many communities excluded from prosperity for years. We need significant funding devolved to local partnerships – to give local places the means to set their own priorities and drive the change in their own neighbourhoods. And when we finally get a consultation on the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund (notably missing today) – we need government to heed our ‘Communities in Charge’ campaign and devolve the power and resources to transform local economies to local people. 
"We are living in a time of extreme political uncertainty. But what is certain is we need to urgently re-examine our stale political settlement. Whoever might be prime minister in a few weeks’ time, we need them to commit to a radical devolution framework and a rejuvenated localism agenda to unlock the power in our communities”.

NPC: 'It’s from a government that won’t even exist in a few weeks'

NPC chief executive, Dan Corry, said: “This is a strange Spending Review. It’s only for one year – when everyone needs more certainty to be able to plan sensibly. It’s based on forecasts for the strength of the economy made back in March by the OBR that now look too optimistic given latest data. And it’s from a government that won’t even exist in a few weeks. So putting too much weight on any of it would be daft. 
"Nevertheless Sajid Javid’s first Commons statement as chancellor does show that our politics  have now turned a corner. No talk in this spending review of cutting or reducing. Whether you agree with the chancellor's definition that giving every department an increase is 'the end of austerity', something has clearly changed.
"Charities will welcome the extra money for  health and education as well as a bit more for social care to help out a strap cashed local government sector that so many of them work with. And it is a welcome surprise that Justice gets some more funding (check). But as the IFS point out spending in most departments in real terms will still well below 2010 levels – and therefore far below in terms of the percentage of GDP.
"But all of this will seem trivial if the experts are right as to what a crash out Brexit might mean for our economy and prosperity. Next to that this Spending Review is small beer indeed.”

Charity Finance Group: 'The government’s promises could very quickly unravel'

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of CFG, said: "Today’s spending review contained much-expected giveaways. Whilst additional spending is to be welcomed, particularly in respect of areas like social care, in the context of many years of squeezed funding there is a lot of ground to be made up.

"The chancellor’s pledge (on social care) could alleviate some of the demand on charities for frontline services but funding is still lower in real terms than at the start of the decade. There is still a very long way to go.

"We are pleased to see additional funding for the Charity Commission. We hope that this is evidence that the government has listened to our concerns and has abandoned plans for charities to pay for their own regulator.

"Above all, we must remember that these commitments are made in the context of ongoing Brexit turmoil, the increasing prospect of a general election and the spectre of no-deal. Against these unknowns, the government’s promises could very quickly unravel."

Directory of Social Change: 'Could all be just so much wasted paper, or at best a stop-gap plan'

Jay Kennedy, director of policy and research at DSC, wrote in a blog: "Whether any of these decisions will satisfy the respective level of need seems unlikely – especially in the case of social care (Boris Johnson made vague statements in the summer about fixing the system but further details have emerged). Even if budgets are increased with inflation or above, this doesn’t necessarily mean spending will keep up with rising demand on services – which charities see happening every day. Also, if there is an election soon which produces a different government, it could all be just so much wasted paper, or at best a stop-gap plan."

Kennedy added: "There were some obvious missing ingredients in the chancellor’s pudding in addition to the lack of any policy movement on social care. They are two issues which have most come to define the experience of austerity over the past ten years: benefits cuts and slashed local government budgets. On both, Javid offered a kind of fudgy obfuscation."

Bond: ‘We welcome the government’s commitment to the UK’s aid target’

Claire Godfrey, interim director of policy, advocacy and research at Bond, the UK network for NGOs said: “We welcome the government’s commitment to the UK’s aid target and hope this translates into aid and development policies that help people hit hardest by poverty, conflict and climate change, keeping them at the heart of the UK’s international development agenda. UK aid has helped improve the lives of millions, enabling people living in some of the poorest parts of the world to live healthier, safer and more prosperous lives.
“However, it’s how aid is spent that matters and we would call on the government to ensure that all development aid remains focused on its primary objective of helping the world’s poorest people. We would urge the government to increase DfID’s oversight of other department’s aid spending to protect the UK’s world class reputation for ensuring that all aid contributes to poverty reduction, meets internationally agreed rules, and remains untied to our strategic and economic interests.”

Voluntary Organisations Disability Group: ‘A meaningful solution will require political nerve’

The chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said: “The funding of social care is a long story of sustained political failure to invest. The chancellor’s commitments today represent no more than a small step forward. To deliver a meaningful solution will require political nerve and insight which to date has not been evident.”

NCVO: 'no-deal Brexit could cause significant disruption'

Paul Winyard from NCVO wrote in a blog: "The fog of Brexit looms large, casting a shadow over the long-term prospects for the economy, and as a consequence, public spending. A disorderly no-deal Brexit could cause significant disruption to productivity and household incomes, resulting in fewer tax receipts to spend on public services. All this means that today’s announcement might only represent a temporary break, rather than an end to austerity.

"The coming months will be key. The big spending and fiscal decisions can only be taken when the nature of our relationship with the EU becomes clearer, not least whether Britain exits the EU without a deal. The budget in November and the postponed full three-year spending review, probably around this time next year, will be more important than ever." 

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