‘Glaring gap’ in adult social care funding as Chancellor unveils plans to save jobs

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivering the summer economic update in a statement to the

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivering the summer economic update in a statement to the House of Commons.Photo: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Council leaders in North Somerset say the pandemic has exposed the ‘criminal way care workers have been undervalued’ and are calling for more money to be spent on adult social care.

North Somerset Council’s deputy leader Mike Bell made the comments in response to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcements yesterday (Wednesday) in which he pledged new measures worth £30billion to protect jobs when the furlough scheme runs out.

The Chancellor said he will cut VAT on food, accommodation and attractions from 20 per cent to 5 per cent from Wednesday, and announced a scheme to give 50 per cent off to people who dine out in August.

The Government will also pay firms a £1,000 bonus for every staff member kept on for three months when the furlough scheme ends in October.

Cllr Bell said many of the new measures will make a real difference, but he stressed extra money is urgently needed to support councils and fund adult social care.

He said: “Many of the Chancellor’s announcements will be welcomed, particularly here in North Somerset by our tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses.

“The temporary VAT reduction for accommodation, food and attractions is something I have long campaigned for and will make a real difference.

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“The ‘eat out to help out’ August discount will also boost many businesses who have been massively hit by the Covid-19 crisis and the council continues to do all we can to support safe reopening. “However, there is a glaring gap in the announcements around supporting councils and some sectors, particularly social care.

“The next few months offer us the potential to change the direction of our community and country for years into the future.

“With funding and the right powers, councils can grasp the opportunity to recover from the pandemic and help reshape our economy so that it benefits everyone.

“We can only support our High Streets, tackle health inequalities exposed by the virus, create new jobs, drive the green economy and tackle the climate emergency with the backing to do so. So far, Government support for the recovery has been piecemeal and nothing like what we need.”

The council is estimating a shortfall of almost £23million this financial year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government has provided £11.85million of emergency cash, but this still leaves a huge gap in funding and the authority is calling for more support.

Cllr Bell added: “When it comes to social care funding, it is deja vu all over again.

“Long term, sustainable investment is no closer now than when the Conservatives came to power in Westminster 10 years ago.

“The Covid-19 crisis has shown the amazing capacity of our health and care workers to rise to the challenge.

“It has also exposed the underfunding of care and the criminal way that care workers have been undervalued. We don’t need more sticking plasters and promises of future reviews, we need Government action now.”