Councils will be able to access new funding of £1.5 billion for social care next year, the Chancellor has announced.

Sajid Javid made the move in the face of ongoing criticism from local councils, health think tanks and charities about the lack of a long-term funding settlement for the sector.

The Local Government Association (LGA) welcomed the cash boost, saying the combined Government cash pledges for councils represented “the biggest year-on-year real terms increase in spending power for local government in a decade”.

Infographic titled Spending Round 2019 – Health & Social Care
(PA Graphics)

But the King’s Fund warned that the extra cash for social care, alongside reconfirmed pledges on the NHS, were like “putting a bit of extra fuel in the tank when the car urgently needs a full service.”

In his announcement, Mr Javid expanded on previous NHS pledges, including an increase in health service funding with capital grants to upgrade 20 hospitals.

He told the Commons: “The spending round is delivering on the people’s priorities and there is no higher priority than the NHS.

“Last year, we increased NHS spending by an extra £34bn a year by 2023/24…today we are reaffirming our commitment to the NHS with a £6.2bn increase in NHS funding next year.

“We are investing more in training and professional development for our doctors and nurses and over £2bn of new capital funding, starting with an upgrade of 20 hospitals this year, and £250m for groundbreaking new artificial intelligence technologies to help solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges today like easier cancer detection, discovering new treatments and relieving the workload of doctors and nurses.”

Turning to social care, he said Prime Minister Boris Johnson “has committed to a clear plan to fix social care and give every older person the dignity and security that they deserve”.

He continued: “I can announce today that councils will have access to new funding of £1.5bn for social care next year alongside the largest increase in local government spending power since 2010 and, on top of the existing £2.5bn of social care grants, that’s a solid foundation to protect the stability of the system next year and a down payment on the more fundamental reforms the Prime Minister will set out in due course.”

James Jamieson, chairman of the LGA, said: “We are delighted that today’s spending round has delivered a funding package of more than £3.5 billion for our vital local services next year.

“This is the biggest year-on-year real terms increase in spending power for local government in a decade and will allow councils to meet the rising cost and demand pressures they face in 2020/21.”

The £3.5bn includes the extra cash for social care and £700m for children and young people with special educational needs.

Mr Jamieson added: “Confirmation that key grants will also continue next year provides much-needed stability for councils.

“The ability to levy an adult social care precept again next year helpfully gives them the potential to raise a further £500 million to help people in our communities who need care and support.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK and co-chairwoman of the Care and Support Alliance, said: “Although the devil is often in the detail when it comes to Government spending announcements, on the face of it the extra money announced for social care in 2020/21 should help to keep our current care system tottering along for another year.

“It should also hopefully mean that local authorities will not have to cut back their care spending this autumn, as many had warned was likely.

“However, the care system is in such bad shape that this new money, welcome as it is, will  only buy some time for  the next 12 months, it will not be sufficient to address the strategic challenges care faces, including sky high turnover among staff.”

Sally Warren, director of policy at the King’s Fund, said: “In the context of a one-year settlement, today’s commitments to extra funding are better news for health and social care services than may have been expected.

“NHS England already benefits from a five year financial settlement, but the decision not to commit to a longer-term settlement for the rest of the health and care system will leave the NHS, social care and public health without the certainty needed to stabilise and improve services as set out the NHS Long-term Plan.

“It’s the equivalent of putting a bit of extra fuel in the tank when the car urgently needs a full service.

“Adult social care was the most pressing priority facing the Government in this spending round, and the Chancellor has provided much-needed extra funds.

“But the money provided today is the bare minimum needed to patch up services for another year and will not be enough to improve services for the people, families and carers who are being let down by the current system.”

She continued: “Significant reform and a long-term funding settlement are urgently needed to deliver a fairer, simpler and more generous system.

“The health and care workforce is in crisis with endemic staff shortages. The extra money pledged for Health Education England, including £150 million for the continuing professional development funding for nurses and midwives, is welcome.

“But this funding is not enough to support the increase in training places needed to tackle the workforce crisis across health and care.”

Nuffield Trust chief economist John Appleby said the spending round was a missed opportunity and that the money pledged was only a third of what was required.

He said: “Funding for developing staff skills mid-career is rising by £150 million, which is much less than what would be needed just to get staff back to where they were in 2013/14.

“And the rest of the budget is hardly rising, leaving almost nothing to get the additional nursing students and GP trainees we urgently need.

“On social care, while the increase in funding next year will give some certainty, it is yet another short-term sticking plaster on a broken system.

“£1 billion extra for adult care is the minimum needed to prop up the system, and will not even get us back to the levels of care a few years ago.

“We need to see the ‘clear plan’ that Sajid Javid referred to and it must set out a vision for a fair and sustainable system that supports people of all ages and spreads catastrophic costs across society, instead of leaving the individual to face them alone.”

The NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, also likened the cash injection to a sticking plaster.

Chief executive Niall Dickson said: “The £1.5 billion of extra funding for councils to cover social care is a start but it’s barely enough to enable local social care services to limp on for another year.

“This hand-to-mouth existence falls well short of what is needed to ensure thousands of vulnerable people, who are not getting the support they need, are cared for.”