The social care system is to get an emergency injection of £240m to stave off a winter crisis – set against the £7bn cut from the system in England alone since 2010 and the £1bn sector managers say is needed.
Health secretary Matt Hancock will tell the Tory conference the funding is to prevent unnecessary admissions and get people home quickly when they are medically fit to leave hospital.
In a speech draft, Hancock maintains he’s already provided funding for hospitals to upgrade their buildings to deal with expected winter pressures – with the £240m effectively a ‘treat’ on top.
Should it happen, the sum could cover the cost of 71,500 domestic care packages or 86,500 ‘reablement’ packages – although councils, through which the funds are directed, can choose to spend the money on adapting homes.
Managers in the social care sector say at least £1bn is needed to adequately relieve intensifying pressure faced by councils and care providers.
Recent research revealed English councils alone as planning some £700m of social care cuts over 2018-19, equivalent to nearly 5% of the total £14.5bn budget.
So, the ‘Hancock injection’ is likely to only mitigate falls in spending elsewhere.
Shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley said the injection was a pin prick against the need to completely re-build social care services that Labour was committed to – pledging an extra £8bn across a parliament.
“There is a severe crisis in social care caused by eight years of Tory austerity and tinkering at the edges like this is not going to solve it, with 400,000 fewer people receiving care under this government than in 2010,” Keeley said.
Ian Hudspeth, the chairman of the LGA community wellbeing board, welcomed the “desperately needed” injection of funds but stressed the need for a long-term solution when adult social care services still face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025 – just to maintain existing standards of care”.
“Councils and providers cannot simply turn services on and off as funding ebbs and flows,” said Hudspeth.
“Putting in place the right services and workforce requires forward planning and longer-term contracts,” he said.