Budget 2018: a penny for the guy

As we digest the Budget 2018, we have a few early thoughts on what it means for social care. Firstly the promise of the end of Austerity (a period now requiring capitalisation as these years will be recorded in history as a period all of their own), is a false one. Like the announcement of the 50p Brexit commemorative coin, it was actually a big joke. In fact Budget 2018 was an illusion and for people and organisations in social care, a disillusion.

The Budget 2018 was like giving a couple of penny chews to a starving family. Not right, not enough. And the sweets will have to be shared through local decision making. Frankly, Budget 2018 was an insult to a sector that has constantly and consistently informed government with high quality evidence that it is on the brink of collapse. Government continues to ignore this at its own peril, but more importantly putting vulnerable people at risk whilst continuing to ramp pressure on an over-worked NHS with all the associated damage that is causing to dedicated professionals.

Nobody expected a complete loosening of the fiscal grip this government has had on public finances (and we take no side on the motivation and wisdom of this), but we had hoped for a clear signal for a change in the direction of travel.

The Chancellor and his colleague, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, are clearly pinning their hopes for the future on the long-awaited (and much delayed) Green Paper, which, we understamd, will only touch on older people’s care and mental health services. This Government too often focuses on the narrow headline-grabbing issues such as delayed discharge and providing a knee-jerk response with short-term measures designed to resolve blockages, but which only over-heat expectations at hospital back-doors to eject people more quickly. Nothing is being done to resolve the bigger problems of the lack of preventative care to stop people going in in the first place, or to support a longer-term strategy (further upstream) of keeping people healthy.

This week, the LGA stated that the majority of people didn’t really understand or had made preparations to pay for their own social care. A public poll by BritainThinks, carried out for the LGA, found that only 15% of adults say they are making plans for how they will pay for care they might need in the future, while half of English adults (50 per cent) say that they have never thought about how they will pay for care when they get older. We presume that the 50% includes the Government, because they are not demonstrating any strategic thinking.

Social care will not be paid for in pennies.

More commentary on the Budget 2018: