In the 2015 Spending Review publication, the Chancellor announced a £3.8bn above inflation increase in funding for the NHS in England next year, as well as two new measures to ease the pressures on local authorities with responsibilities for delivering social care.
These comprised of, firstly, a power for councils to increase council tax by 2 per cent to be ring-fenced for social care. Secondly, there was an increase in resources for the Better Care Fund, which would see the Fund grow to £1.5 billion by 2019–20.
While the additional front loading of investment for the NHS is welcome, our briefing outlines several concerns, including:
- Additional cuts to Department of Health budgets, as well as reductions of £600m to local authority public health grants, may have knock on effects for the NHS.
- New investment plans for social care may not be enough to bring social care back from the brink of collapse, since plans would only have the potential to raise £2 billion a year by the end of the Parliament if every local authority imposed the 2% increase. However, poorer areas of England will have to increase council tax far more for the same return than wealthier ones.
- The extra £1.5 billion of funding that will result from the extended Better Care Fund will not take effect until 2017/18, and will only fully arrive in 2019/20.
Nuffield Trust (2015) Spending Review 2015: what it means for health and social care.