Home / Resources & Guidance / Spring Budget – The Government’s Last Chance Saloon

Today, Wednesday 6 March 2024, Jeremy Hunt delivered the Spring Budget to Parliament.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Care England, says:

“This year’s Spring Budget made it clear that the government has no intention to make good on its 5-year-old promise to ‘fix social care’. While financial support was given to the child social care system which was recognised as broken, no such lifeline was given to adult social care. Our sector continues to move ever closer to a cliff edge. We all want good quality care for our loved ones – now we need those in Government to care.”

The focus of the Spring Budget was on reducing personal taxation, despite consistent polling from Ipsos showing that healthcare is the primary issue that will decide the public’s vote at the next election – ahead of inflation and the wider economic situation.

The Chancellor confirmed a “landmark public sector productivity plan” which will create a more productive NHS. Whilst Care England welcomes this move, the relationship between health and social care has been overlooked. Investing in social care will allow people to have their needs met in the place they call home and reduce pressure on the NHS.

Care England’s Spring Budget representation set out a number of pragmatic solutions for the Government to introduce, which came at no additional expense to the government or the taxpayer. Care England’s asks can be read here.

Furthermore, the Low Pay Commission (LPC) 2023 Report was published this week, providing the rationale behind the recommendations that apply from 1 April 2024, including an increase in the National Living Wage to £11.44 for those aged 21 and above. Within the report, there is recognition that wages paid by care providers are wedded to the annual fee uplifts they receive from Local Authorities. Care England has told the LPC if it continues to increase the minimum wage without Local Authorities matching this with funded fee increases, care providers will continue to have to absorb these costs.

Following the Spring Budget, the adult social care sector will face another challenging year, on top of a situation where 43% of adult social care providers have closed services or handed back contracts to the Local Authority as a result of financial pressure, according to research from Care England and the national learning disability charity, Hft.

Professor Martin Green continues:

“Adult social care is an essential service to the public. The cries of our sector have fallen on deaf ears. A stable adult social care system is vital to the health of the NHS, but this relationship is clearly not appreciated. Care services are vital to local economies and employment opportunities, but this has also been overlooked.  This was the Government’s last chance saloon to deliver on its promise but with no long-term commitment to funding the system, the situation grows increasingly perilous.”