Open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt from the National Care Forum, the membership body for not-for-profit care and support providers.
18 October 2022
We welcome the appointment of a chancellor with such a deep understanding of social care and we are confident that you will take the opportunity to strengthen the sector that you have championed over recent years. However, we are deeply concerned about your statement that “all departments will need to redouble their efforts to find savings and some areas of spending will need to be cut.”
Funding: As Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, you demonstrated a knowledge of adult social care and the need for reform via sustainable funding, workforce planning and the greater involvement of people in their own care. Numerous reports produced by the Health and Social Care Select Committee, during your time as Chair, set out the need for an additional £7bn a year as a starting point for social care reform and a long-term, sustainable strategy which includes pay progression on par with the NHS, professional development, training, and career pathways.
As the new Chancellor, the care and support sector is relying on you to seize the opportunity you now have to secure that additional funding and ensure that essential reforms and funding are brought forward for adult social care. The Prime Minister’s pledge during her leadership campaign to fund social care with the £13bn that would have been raised from the now scrapped National Insurance levy should cement adult social care as one of the priority areas for the government.
Public spending cuts to adult social care would be disastrous, especially given current pressure on the NHS and the looming winter pressures. Equally, failing to increase public spending on social care in line with rising costs and ignoring the urgent need to inject funding into the workforce would also be unthinkable. We urge you to honour the recommendations of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.
Workforce planning: We welcomed your strong advocacy during the Health and Care Bill debates for the government to publish independently verified assessments on current and future workforce numbers needed for health and social care as a means to force the issue on workforce planning.
This is even more essential given most recent data from Skills for Care on the state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England has revealed that there are now 165,000 vacancies in the sector and, more significantly, a decrease in the workforce of around 3% (50,000 people) from the previous year. Demand for services is growing at the same time. According to Carers UK there are 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK and a recent survey carried out by ADASS found that over half a million people in England were waiting for care assessments, reviews and/or care and support to begin.
At this pivotal time in our nation, we ask you to:
- Make good on your convictions and guarantee additional funding for adult social care in line with the findings of the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s recommendations & the Prime Minister’s pledge of £13bn
- Commit to the reform of adult social care as outlined in People at the Heart of Care, and provide the funding to fully realise this to ensure people are able to access high quality services when they need them.
- Bring forward a fully funded, workforce plan, with pay progression in line with the NHS, making provision for better terms and conditions, training and career structures.
- Guarantee that adult social care providers are defined as a vulnerable sector as part of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme following April 2023
- Guarantee that those people accessing adult social care support will still be able to access a version of the Energy Price Guarantee following April 2023
Good quality and well-resourced social care is good for growth – it is preventative in nature, allowing people to retain their independence for longer, doing the things they want to do, living in and contributing to their communities and working if they wish. Poor health and wellbeing are a leading reason for economic inactivity and low productivity in our society. Public spending cuts for adult social care are inconceivable as they will damage one of the key drivers of not only economic growth but also wider societal cohesion and wellbeing.
Professor Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of National Care Forum