THE BLOG

Cutting Care

04/12/2015 14:03 GMT | Updated 02/12/2016 10:12 GMT

The shortfall in social care funding, estimated to be around the £4.3bn mark by the end of the decade, once again was not addressed sufficiently in the Chancellor's recent Spending Review.

Despite the likes of Care England, the Care and Support Alliance, Age UK, the Alzheimer's Society and ourselves at Anchor all encouraging the government to take this issue seriously, there has been no real progress.

Back in July, when George Osborne delivered his Summer Budget, the care sector was left reeling. The issue wasn't what was unveiled, but rather what was left out. Among the big announcements, such as the new living wage, there was no mention of how the Government was going to address the thorny issue of social care funding.

Despite promising in their manifesto to introduce a 'care cap' , the Government shelved this initiative which would have limited the amount over-65s and younger adults with disabilities would have paid towards their care. Last week's Spending Review confirmed that it won't be introduced until April 2020.

Research we carried out earlier this year shows more than a third of over 55s are concerned about being able to afford adequate care in old age. On average, a child born today can expect to live to be 92 and, as we live longer, the support we need increases and becomes more complex. One in three women and one in four men will need care at some point in their lives.

We had hoped the Spending Review would have addressed the omissions of the Summer Budget but State support for people's social care needs has never been more stretched.

In theory, the Spending Review proposal to allow local authorities to increase council tax by up to 2% to fund social care could raise £2bn. Even if it did, the figure would be insufficient. But the reality is that councils facing the biggest pressures will be those with the highest proportion of poorer older people. It means those with the least will be most likely to face the biggest tax hikes and risks a postcode lottery for care.

Last-minute announcements to bolster health budgets are welcome but these should be mirrored by financial boosts to social care budgets. Health and social care have to work together and must be funded appropriately to benefit all who use these services. After all, it's social care that reduces reliance on GPs and emergency services in the first place, picks up the pieces after a visit to hospital to ensure full recovery, and is best placed to break the cycle of people returning to hospital again and again.

Years of inaction by successive governments have had a devastating impact and at a time when the costs of providing care look set to continue to rise, especially with the introduction of the "Living Wage". Government made a manifesto commitment to look after people as they grow old yet more and more people are facing care fees on their own. I am seriously worried that the Government risks failing to achieve its commitment unless it addresses the long-standing issues of underfunding of the care system.

It's time for a sustainable and long-term plan on care.