Chancellor Rishi Sunak has provided local authorities with an extra £1bn of social care funding as the government looks to bring forward its reform proposals next year.
As part of the Chancellor’s spending review this afternoon (November 25), the government said it was committed to improving the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals on how to do this next year.
Today's £1bn funding comes in addition to the £1bn social care grant announced last year which, Mr Sunak confirmed, will be maintained into 2021.
According to the government, local authorities will be able to access more than £1bn of spending for social care through a £300m social care grant and the ability to levy a 3 per cent adult social care precept.
The government will also provide councils with £3bn to address Covid-19 pressures, including in adult social care.
It said: “This will support councils to maintain care services while keeping up with rising demand and recovering from the impact of Covid-19.”
Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, said while the latest announcement was a “step in the right direction” the government needed to do more to get social care on an equal footing with the NHS.
He said: “The public is running out of patience because social care reform is always getting passed into the next year.
“It is unacceptable that the government still isn’t getting the message that social care is just as important as the NHS and it needs to be addressed now.”
Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said the extra funding was welcome but a long-term sustainable solution for social care funding needed to be found.
Mr Cameron said: “The additional funds allocated to the care sector in the Spending Review are unlikely to be more than a short-term sticking plaster.
“Previous suggestions to create sustainable funding included an increase in income tax or National Insurance, earmarked for social care, and perhaps just for the over 40s. But the Chancellor will now need to undertake a tricky balancing act to assess any such changes against other plans and priorities he may have for his Spring Budget.
“It’s highly likely that people will need to take more personal responsibility for saving for social care and one route for this might be through pensions.”
There were also concerns that the government might use this short-term fix to further delay reform.
Stephen Lowe, group director of communications at Just Group, said: "Today’s announcement may get more publicity but it does nothing to establish the social care policy that is so desperately needed. It’s a sticking plaster.
"Meanwhile thousands of people across the country are struggling to make sense of their options and make care plans for their loved ones as best they can in the absence of any clear lead from government.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson has promised repeatedly to 'fix' the social care system and in a speech in late June, said the government was ‘finalising’ plans to solve the issue.