Autumn Budget 2021: Where does it leave social care?

In an announcement on 27 October 2021, Rishi Sunak described £4.8 billion in grant funding to local authorities as the “largest increase in core funding for over a decade.” However he did not make it clear whether this money would be ring-fenced or how much of this finding social care would actually see. This was done in an effort to deliver on the Boris Johnson’s reforms for health and social care.

In a previous article written by Ridouts, it had been noted that this level of funding was nowhere near what the social care industry needed in order to remain economically viable. And now, when the plan is finally being put into action there is still no guarantee how much, if any, the adult social care sector will see in terms of funding.

According to the Prime Minister, the goal is to “level up and unite the whole of the United Kingdom.” As part of his levelling up speech, Johnson highlighted the critical role that the government will need to play in ensuring people have access to good public services and the skills and training needed to get good jobs alongside investing in infrastructure an connectivity and growing the private sector. Many argue that this extra funding will not go far enough to help solve the infrastructure problems that the sector faces including workforce recruitment, retention and development and low wages.

Provider Points to Note

Providers will want to be on the lookout for changing regulations and how this money will be passed on to them, especially with the CQC being more aggressive when it comes to inspections and consequences of failure to comply being costly.

  • County & Town Deals

Johnson has outlined a plan to devolve powers all the way down to metro mayors via county deals. This would mean that they will be tailored to the needs of each area and thus there is more opportunity for individual needs to be met on an ad hoc basis rather than prescribed to them without any consideration for their individual needs.

Further, 15 towns will have deals where government funding will be provided to enable them to invest in local economies. Again, this at least provides opportunity to cater to individual needs of businesses based on location (ie care home providers).

  • Inflation Rates & Legal Minimum Wage Rise

Another point that has been made over and over again is the fact that this injection of money on top of the health and social care tax will do little more than compensate for inflation and the raise in national minimum wage. It means that this money cannot be used to make lasting and effective change but rather will allow the social care sector to merely stay afloat economically.

  • New CQC Inspection Framework

The CQC are in the midst of developing a new assessment framework to implement in line with their new strategy. The CQC wants to ensure effectiveness by working in partnership with providers and service users. Despite good intentions, it appears that the new monitoring approach (read more about that HERE) is designed to downgrade ratings rather than assess the status of services provided. Further, the CQC have a tendency to rely on outdated, insufficient evidence to justify issuing NoPs and NoDs.

Impact

All of the above will inherently determine how much money the social care sector actually gets to use at its own discretion. On top of the pressures in the sector around staffing and capacity there is also the looming threat of legal battles with the CQC. Most notably is their new approach to inspections, which can take precious management time and funding away from focusing on delivering high quality care to service users.

At Ridouts we assist providers in challenging the CQC in all manner of its regulatory powers when providers feel that unfair enforcement action has been taken against them. Our specialist team of solicitors is well-versed in the nuances of the CQC and can offer tailored advice and can help alleviate some of the pressures which the care sector faces currently.                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

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