Government announce tax increase but campaigners say it 'isn't going to touch' social care crisis
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that he would break an election manifesto promise and increase taxes to raise billions for the NHS and social care.
From April 2022 the tax will begin as a 1.25% rise in National Insurance before changing to a separate tax on income from 2023.
The increase will mean someone on a £30,000 a year salary would pay an extra £255 per year.
The Conservative party say the move will raise £36 billion over the next three years which will be used to tackle the backlog being seen in the NHS after the coronavirus pandemic.
'A damp squib'
Though the announcement was billed as a reform to social care, only £5.4 billion will be directed to that sector in the upcoming three years leading campaigners to describe it as a ‘damp squib’.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group and owner of Saint Cecilia’s Care Group in Scarborough, said: “This, once again, has been a huge opportunity missed for radical, once in a generation reform of the social care system.
“[£5.4bn] isn’t going to touch the crisis in the sector and will certainly not address the 120,000 vacancies in staffing, which is sending the sector into meltdown on a daily basis as care providers struggle to cover shifts.
“Social care has always played second fiddle to the NHS but they need to work in tandem.
“Yes, the NHS is urgent, but social care is urgent too and if we do not get the support we need, more and more damage will continue to be inflicted upon the crumbling social care sector and the NHS will be left to pick up the pieces anyway.”
How much it costs North Yorkshire
According to the most recent Adult Social Care Activity and Finance Report, for 2019-20, there were a total of 28,600 new requests for social care in North Yorkshire, and 9,220 clients accessing long term care support.
The net expenditure by North Yorkshire County Council on social care from April 1 2019 to March 31 2020 was £195,671 - the second highest of any local authority in Yorkshire and the Humber - and the equivalent of £39,085 per 100,000 people.
Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said:“We welcome the publication of the plan and I’m pleased that the Government is tackling this issue.
“We look forward to discussing the further details that will be set out in the forthcoming White Paper.
“The measures announced will start to address the issue of uncertainty around care costs for individuals and families.
“However, we need to see more detailed proposals about the Government’s plans for stabilising care provision and investing in the workforce.
“Adult social care is vitally important to our residents and to the council. The service accounts for nearly 50 per cent of our budget, and we need to support the sector while it works through its numerous challenges.”
A 'unique situation', says MP
Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough and Whitby, said: “This addresses what many of my constituents see as a real unfairness in the current system.
“It may encourage people who do need to be in a care home to go in.”
Mr Goodwill acknowledged the move broke an election promise but said when it was written no one could have predicted the effect of the pandemic on the health service or the economy.
“Nobody likes putting up taxes,” he said, “But people understand the unique situation we’re in with the pandemic.
“We need to address the backlog in the NHS or it could reach 13 million and people could die on the waiting list.”
The Prime Minister said that there are currently 30,000 patients in NHS beds that would be better suited to social care.
In addition to the levy, the government have stated under the new plans no one will pay more than £86,000 for care across their lifetime, anyone with less than £20,000 of assets will get free care and those with less than £100,000 of assets will see their care costs subsidised.
What our readers say
On The Scarborough News’ social media, readers reacted strongly to the announcement.
Tony Fawcett said: “It’s got to be paid for somehow, people are calling for better social care, the NHS is a luxury we are all prepared to pay for.
“I am happy to support this.”
However, Cravitz Emma said: “What care? There are no carers so how can there be any social care. The system is broken beyond repair and is a load of assessments and no action.”