If I close my eyes, I visualise an entire new introductory paragraph...
There were a surprising number of announcements in the Budget relating to social care. On top of the recent injection of £240 million for winter pressures for this year, Chancellor Phillip Hammond pledged:
- Another £240 million for adult social care pressures in 2019-20
- A £55 million top up for the Disabled Facilities Grant in 2018-19
- £84 million for the rollout of a children’s social care pilot programme helping children to stay at home, over 5 years
- £410 million for adults and children’s social care in 2019-20
I share the disappointment of ADASS President Glen Garrod, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis and numerous others – this additional funding is no way near enough, and is too short-term in nature. But while the amount of money isn’t game changing, but I think there are two aspects of its delivery that could be.
Firstly – the £410 million is allocated simply to ‘social care’. Those with a more cynical disposition might say that this allows the government to claim to be supporting either children’s and adults’ services by up to £410 million, depending on who is lobbying them.
What it will certainly do is add a new dimension to the budget setting process within councils. What is the best way to share out the money? I have no doubt that some service directors are already working out the formula (relative budget size, relative demand pressures, relative threat of disaster/regulator displeasure) that would give them the biggest share. My hope is that this new situation spurs some to reframe the challenge and look across system boundaries. Rather than just fighting for a share, there is actually a real opportunity here to look at shared and common issues, such as disabled children transitioning to adulthood and the social care workforce as a whole.
Secondly – the £240 million for next year’s winter pressures is being given extremely early, and it is being given directly to councils. This is a big chance for local authorities to show what difference they can make when they have time to plan. I urge you not to waste this opportunity!