As predicted in my earlier blog, the last Budget from this government had very little in it for social care – either professionals or service users.
In terms of service users, as expected, little was said; so no real gains or losses, other than for those who enjoy cider and cigarettes.
In regards to care funding, the Chancellor merely said that the health secretary would soon outline further proposals, which tells us nothing we didn’t already know.
The only other impacts on the social care industry came from the announcements that government departments would be saving £11 billion this year – reinforcing that the next Comprehensive Spending Review in 2011 will be the toughest for decades – and public sector pay settlements would be at a maximum of 1% in 2011-12.
Again, nothing that wasn’t already know. The details for where the cuts will come will be announced by the individual departments shortly.
My initial assessment is that this Budget is a bit of a damp squib, with few surprises and obviously geared to the forthcoming election – there are some cheap wins for the government contained in it, such as removing stamp duty for first time buyers of properties under £250,000.
Despite social care being touted as one of the primary battlegrounds for the election, the amount of coverage it got in the Budget perhaps suggests otherwise. Or maybe it is just a bit too controversial a subject for a Budget designed not to rock the boat and potentially alienate any voters.
Another theory is that any potential solution to care funding may not involve any new money – such as an inheritance tax scheme (or ‘Death Tax’).
Nevertheless, the real Budget to pay attention to will be the first one after the election; that will be when the real hard funding decisions will be announced and we will really know whether a new age of austerity will be upon us.