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‘NI hike not enough to fix social care crisis’

‘NI hike not enough to fix social care crisis’

Social care will not receive enough money from the Government’s National Insurance hike to fund the sector, with most of the money earmarked for the NHS, umbrella bodies have said.

The 1.25% NI and dividend tax increase passed through the House of Commons yesterday by 319 votes to 248. But of the £36bn extra the Government says will be gained over the next three years, just £5.4bn is earmarked for social care in England, which critics have said will not be enough to fix the crisis facing the sector.

Instead, most funds will go towards reducing the NHS waiting list, currently at a record 5.5m. And the health secretary Sajid Javid admitted on Tuesday that he cannot say how much money social care will receive or when because it ‘depends on how NHS gets on with clearing the backlog’.

But Richard Kramer, chief executive of disability charity Sense, asked: ‘Will the money really find its way back into social care after 2025? We need a commitment from Government that this money will be ringfenced, or we will never find our way out of this crisis.’

And in a statement, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned: ‘It is clear that the extra funding will not be sufficient to reverse the cuts in the numbers receiving care seen during the 2010s.

‘Thus, while more people will become entitled to financial support as a result of the reforms planned, many people with care needs not considered severe enough will continue to miss out.’

At an average of £1.8bn per year, the social care funding boost is equivalent to around 9% of what councils spent on adult social care services in 2019-20, the IFS calculated.

Mike Padgham, Independent Care Group chair, said on Twitter: ‘[It is] very disappointing that social care once again has to pay second fiddle to the NHS’… Any extra funding for the sector when it eventually arrives will not be enough to tackle the staffing crisis.’

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the plan in the Commons as ‘broad-based and progressive’, adding Government was ‘taking the tough decisions that the country wants to see’.

Under the proposals, patients entering the social care system will not have to pay more than £86k over their lifetime. However, the daily living costs in a care home – those associated with food, energy bills and the accommodation – will not count towards the cap.           

The changes will come into effect from April 2022. The NI increase will appear on people’s payslips as a separate Health & Social Care levy from 2023.

Anyone who has assets of less than £20k will also have their care costs fully covered by the state, while those with assets between £20k and £100k will receive some means-tested state support.

As part of the reforms, working pensioners – estimated at around 1.2m people – will pay NI contributions for the first time.

Successive governments have been aware of the need to fund a long-term sustainable plan for social care and Mr Johnson promised to ‘fix’ the issue when he became prime minister in 2019.

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