Over the next three years the government plans to make £5.4bn available for the funding of adult social care, but charities told MPs that this was “not enough”.
Charity professionals were giving evidence to the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee of MPs about the funding of social care.
The health and social care levy will create this extra funding, from a 1.25% increase in National Insurance Contributions. The £5.4bn revenue from the levy will be collected over 2022-2025. £3.6bn will be used to reform how people pay for care, with £1.7bn to support “wider system reform”.
Representatives from Rethink Mental Illness, Carers UK, Care & Support Alliance and others said the plans did not go far enough.
The health and social care levy ‘isn’t enough’
Brian Dow, deputy CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, said the funding “isn’t enough” as “one in twelve pounds that’s spent in social care is spent on mental health”.
Dow said: “If you look at in the context of increased need for mental health support since the pandemic, I think it’s fairly clear that although that money’s welcome, the health and social care levy for example, isn’t really going to go the distance we need it to go to meet the need that’s out there.”
Emily Holzhausen, director of policy and public affairs at the charity Carers UK, echoed these concerns.
She said: “If I come from the perspective of carers, I’m afraid it’s not enough […] after the pandemic we saw the number of families providing unpaid care shoot up from an estimated 9 million to about 13.6 million and about 4.5 million people becoming carers overnight.”
Co-chair of Care & Support Alliance, Jackie O’Sullivan, agreed that the funding “isn’t enough” and provided figures on how much funding the adult social care sector needs to maintain its current services.
O’Sullivan highlighted research from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services which underlines 400,000 people are waiting for care assessments and that 1.5 million hours of commissioned home care could not be provided between August – October 2021 due to lack of staff.
O'Sullivan said: “If you look at pre-Covid, the Health Select Committee called for a minimum of £7bn a year for the next four or five years and the Health Foundation also said that they thought that £12bn was required to do the reforms themselves.”
Dow added that an estimated 10 million people in England may require support for their mental health following the pandemic, so there is a gap in supply and demand.
James White, head of public affairs and campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said that though the increased funding into social care is welcomed, that Alzheimer's Society "does have some concerns".
Ruthe Isden, head of health and care at Age UK, said: “I think there’s been analysis from the Kings Fund that suggests once you’ve added it all up you’re looking at a 1.8% increase in spending power on the part of local authorities - once you’ve taken into account some of the other responsibilities they’ll be asked to take on as part of those reforms, which in the face of the challenges of the social care system, as it stands is really not going to be adequate to the task.”
Isden then brought up the Health and Select Committee’s estimate that £3.9bn was needed to maintain the current services and “stand still”. She told the committee that to improve the social care sector, a £7bn - £9bn investment is necessary.
Fazilet Hadi, head of policy at Disability Rights UK, felt the funding from the levy was “totally inadequate”.
She said: “Funding needs to be based on really clear values and clear strategy. Funding doesn’t come first; funding follows your strategy. We’ve got social care in utter crisis.”
Hadi emphasised that everything on the “social care dashboard is red, and that’s real people’s lives. That’s disabled people, old and young, experiencing unacceptable levels of service or no service”.
Hadi continued: “During the pandemic, social care was treated as the poor relative of the NHS […] if we start on the premise that the [NHS and social care] are different but equal services then I think we might go to a very different place for funding.”