How will the Budget affect social care?

Tomorrow is probably the most crucial day for the UK since the general election; the emergency Budget is delivered.

This has been widely trailed for weeks, and we all know that cuts are coming and will be deep. Just how deep will be revealed tomorrow – and there are a lot of worried people out there, for many reasons.

For example, it is anticipated that the cuts will herald many job losses in the public sector –the Adam Smith Institute, a think tank, claimed that more than 250,000 employees could be cut without affecting frontline services.

But will the Budget effect services in social care? Yes, is the simple answer, because the Budget will affect every department of the public sector.

However, there have been few specifics given away so far – although we know that the grant for implementing the personalisation agenda in adult social care will be protected.

Elsewhere, there may be an announcement about provision for more respite care for carers, which would be warmly welcomed.

As for anything else, it is back to guesswork again. So here goes…

The London School of Economics and University of Kent, commissioned by Age UK, reckons the social care budget could be cut by £900 million over the next 2 years. That would inevitably mean cuts, and it could well be that local authorities ramp up the eligibility criteria for social care once again. This would take some people out of the system and as a result could seriously adversely impact on their – and their carers’ – lives and possibly hasten their move to more complex services or residential care.

Elsewhere, welfare benefits will be looked at, and any rise is unlikely at best. There is also the threat of changes to Incapacity Benefit and more stringent testing for eligibility, which could mean that some people are moved onto the (lower rate) Jobseeker’s Allowance who have little chance of gaining work.

There is also a lingering threat of a rise in VAT, which would hit everyone.

However, before the election at the Age UK conference, the Conservatives and Liberals said that social care funding levels would be maintained at least. But since then both have had a better look at the UK’s books and this hasn’t been reiterated since the coalition was formed – or if it has, I haven’t seen it; please correct me if I’m wrong.

So, tomorrow’s Budget could be painful for social care in terms of job losses for those employed in the sector, cuts to services and benefits. What effect this will have remains to be seen, but those involved in providing care will keep on going because they always do – that is the one certainty at this time.

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