Tackling inflation, tax hikes and the energy price cap made headlines in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, but a number of key announcements were made in respect of social care reform and the NHS. So what do these announcements mean and what can the health and social care sector expect going forwards.
Today, the Chancellor has committed to increasing the NHS budget, in each of the next two years, by an extra £3.3 billion and has confirmed that the new hospitals programme will be delivered.
Notwithstanding this, the NHS has been asked by the Government to tackle waste and inefficiency and as part of this the Chancellor is seeking the advice of the former Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, as to how it can ensure that Integrated Care Boards operate efficiently with appropriate autonomy and accountability. However, it remains unclear as to how the NHS will be able to make the necessary efficiency costs given the increasing pressures NHS bodies are under.
After much speculation in recent weeks, the Chancellor has also confirmed that the social care reforms put forward by Boris Johnson’s government (which were due to be implemented in October 2023) will be delayed for two years in light of local authorities voicing concerns as to their ability to deliver these changes.
The Chancellor stated that the delay in these reforms (combined with more council tax flexibilities) will mean an increase in the funding available for the social care sector of up to £2.8 billion next year and £4.7 billion the year after – which, should enable local authorities to deliver more packages of care to those in need. The Chancellor also committed an additional grant for adult social care funding in the sum of £1 billion next year and £1.7 billion the year after.
Whilst additional funding is being committed to the health and social care sector, it is unclear whether this additional funding will be sufficient to adequately address the pressures and shortages faced by the sector.
Further, it is unclear whether this funding will address the real concerns within social care and in particular, the impact on providers as a result of local authorities paying unsustainably low rates for care and the impact this has on self-funded individuals.
Only time will tell if today’s Autumn Statement will deliver the Chancellor’s intended benefits.
For further information about the delayed social care reforms following today’s Autumn Statement please see our FAQs.
If you would like to discuss these changes or you want further information then please contact one of our Social Care Team.