The government’s refusal to find any new money for social care will inflict significant and lasting damage on the NHS and the lives of its patients.
The local government finance settlement announced by the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, this week did virtually nothing to alleviate the growing social care crisis. He simply allowed local authorities to bring forward council tax increases and shifted £240m from housing.
Compare that with Local Government Association figures showing adult social care funding fell from £14.7bn in 2012-13 to £14.1bn in 2015-16, while demand continues to rise.
The government’s refusal to provide any meaningful relief for social services is a blow to the NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens. Ministers have been unshakeable in their insistence that they have given the NHS more than it asked for to fund the Five Year Forward View transformation plan, a position that Stevens has directly challenged in parliament. With no likelihood of the health service getting more money directly, Stevens had been pushing hard to get additional cash into health and care through social services. That has now failed.
The health and care system is now in a stand-off with the government. Downing Street sees constant calls for more money as no more than routine shroud-waving, and suspects that the Sustainability and Transformation Plan initiative will provide more of the same. Javid and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, are locked into this position, whatever their private views.
Full article in The Guardian 16 December 2016