Responding to ‘Build Back Better: Our Plan for the NHS and Social Care’ announced today by the government, Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Policy Natasha Curry said:
“After decades of dangerous delay, the broken social care sector will be feeling short-changed and bitterly disappointed at the proposed funding levels and timing of reform today.
“The proposed £36bn across three years raised by a dedicated health and social care levy has the potential to provide the substantial funds needed for comprehensive reform. But for the next three-year period at least, the vast majority of funds, over £30bn, will go directly to the NHS to help clear the frightening backlog of operations and treatments postponed by the pandemic. While the decision to raise taxes for social care is bold and welcome action, the reality is the money left for social care (£5.4bn over three years) will only go some of the way to stabilise a dire situation and leaves little for meaningful change.
“The ability to make real improvements to care services will now depend on whether these funds can be excavated from the health service further down the line. Taking money away from the NHS is a task that has not been done before. It also is not yet clear what the scale of the backlog will be and whether the service can achieve efforts to increase capacity by 10% in that timescale.
“The introduction of a cap of £86k and making it easier for people to access financial support from the state is significant and will be a relief to tens of thousands of people. It means more people will potentially qualify for the help they need and have a clearer idea of the maximum cost associated with the care they need.
“But the cap and floor alone do not amount to a proper long-term plan embedded in a vision to improve services that enable people who draw on care and support to live the life they want to live. While there are nods to wider change within a forthcoming white paper, it is only with an adequate long-term investment that this fragile sector can be put on a sustainable footing. I’m afraid many care staff, providers, unpaid carers and care users will be asking whether these proposals amount to the wide-ranging comprehensive reform that they have been waiting for.”
Notes to editors
- The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.
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