Disabled campaigners have reacted with alarm to the government’s decision that it will not address the social care funding crisis until the end of next year, despite announcing billions of pounds a year extra for the NHS.
Despite saying in a speech that ministers “know we need to improve social care”, prime minister Theresa May said a new funding settlement for social care would not be announced until the next spending review, expected at the end of 2019.
The health and social care secretary, Jeremy Hunt, also told MPs that the government’s green paper on older people’s social care – which had been expected next month – would now be delayed until the autumn so it could be published at “around the same time” as a new 10-year plan for the NHS.
Hunt had earlier told the BBC that the government would also produce “a long-term plan for social care” but that ministers “can’t do all these things at the same time”.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) had not been able by 1pm today (Thursday) to explain whether its parallel piece of work on working-age disabled adults and social care had also been delayed until the autumn.
A DHSC spokeswoman had refused to comment when asked why the social care funding crisis was not being addressed at the same time as NHS funding.
May and Hunt announced an average real terms increase in NHS funding of 3.4 per cent a year from 2019-20 to 2023-24, which will see NHS England’s budget increase by £20.5 billion in real terms by 2023-24.
Although the government will not say how the NHS increase will be funded until the chancellor delivers his budget at the end of this year, the increase in funding was broadly welcomed.
But there was frustration among disabled commentators and campaigners that – yet again – ministers had failed to address the need for a major increase in social care funding.