Spending Round: major challenges remain for health, social care and wider public services Health Foundation response to the Spending Round for 2020/21

5 September 2019

Responding to the publication of the Spending Round for 2020/21, Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation, said:

'The Chancellor’s statement marks the end to cuts to public services, but undoing the impact of nine years of austerity will take more than one year of increased spending and major challenges remain for health, social care and the wider public services that drive health outcomes and inequality. This is essentially a spending round that papers over the cracks.

'The 2.9% increase for the Department of Health and Social Care falls short of the absolute minimum of 3.3% needed to maintain care and start to address the growing NHS workforce crisis, and puts at risk the ambitions to improve the health service laid out in the NHS long term plan.

'Next year’s increase in the public health grant ends five years of real term cuts that had reduced the grant by a fifth, but will fall significantly short of the £1bn required to reverse them. It fails to match the rate of increase in budget for NHS front-line services and so will still represent a shrinking share of overall health spend. This is despite evidence that further public health spending would be three times more productive than spending on health services.

'Adult social care is hanging on by a thread. The extra money announced by the chancellor could amount to an additional £1bn spending for adult social care, depending on decisions made locally. This is welcome, but broadly only keeps pace with rising demand, with no respite for the many thousands of people living with unmet social care needs. And around a half needs to be raised by council tax – a difficult prospect in areas of the greatest deprivation where need is highest.

'Many of the larger increases fall to departments that manage the symptoms of acute societal needs; social care, policing, and criminal justice. There is a real risk that the additional spend in 2020/21 simply papers over the cracks by dealing with crises rather than providing the long-term investment needed for sustained improvements to our living standards and health. The Chancellor’s announcement doesn’t provide any additional funding for working age social security, where austerity continues, with child poverty rates expected to rise further.'

Media contact

Sam Fletcher
020 7257 8027

Emily Eldridge
020 7257 8068

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