Expert commentary from Paul Dossett, head of local government at Grant Thornton UK LLP, on social care announcements in today’s budget:
“The Chancellor's £2bn commitment in health and social care, while welcome and needed, is not enough. Social care is driving local authority finances through the floor. Those councils who have an obligation to provide it are already having to spend more than 50% of their funding, outside of education, on this area and reduce spending in others. But this investment still won’t tackle the real challenge facing the NHS and struggling local authorities.
“There is an acute shortage in the workforce that Britain needs to help meet the demands of an ageing population. There needs to be long term structural reform which will invest in providers and people who deliver these services, including those EU nationals that make up such a large proportion of the workforce. With the ILC-UK predicting that the social care workforce gap will be more than 750,000 people by 2037, we need urgent reassurance of the status of EU workers' right to remain, otherwise our care system will be underfunded, undervalued and understaffed. Unsocial working hours and low pay do not make social care an attractive career for many UK citizens, even in areas of low job growth and low skills.
“A new T Level in Social Care may help in the longer-term, but won't address the chronic shortage of workers in the short term. It's access to people, not money, that is the real issue for health and social care, and one that must be addressed in the Green Paper later this year.
“If the government seriously believes it is the ‘party of the NHS’ it needs to look beyond simple monetary issues and take a broader, more comprehensive look at the care industry. We need to re-think how our services are structured and focus on speeding up the integration of our health and social care services. This needs to be done before rescuing our struggling social care service becomes an almost impossible task.”