£1billion blow to Boris’ pledge to fix social care
A BILLION pounds from Boris Johnson’s flagship plan to fix care for the elderly has been ‘diverted’, the public spending watchdog reveals today.
The then prime minister set aside £1.7billion in 2021 for major changes that would give pensioners more choice over how they are looked after and to raise standards.
But the National Audit Office says only £729million will now be spent on much- needed reforms by 2025.
The Department of Health and Social Care has ‘reallocated’ the other £1billion to ‘other adult social care priorities’, its report says.
This includes £172million on speeding up the process of getting older patients out of hospital beds and into nursing homes, £20million towards NHS pay and £171million returned to the Treasury due to delays.
Progress has also been slow in the crucial area of improving the care workforce. The health department has delayed a major project to train more staff ‘ because it has not yet been able to set up a system to administer payments to providers’, the report reveals.
The NAO warned that despite a ten-year vision for transforming adult social care set out by Mr Johnson’s government, the health department does not have a long-term funded plan to achieve it and has made less progress than it hoped.
It said the department and councils have ‘a lot of work to do’ on the other major change to social care – an £86,000 lifetime cap on personal care costs to stop pensioners having to sell family homes which has been delayed to October 2025.
Natasha Curry, of health think-tank Nuffield Trust, said: ‘ The NAO report paints a bleak picture of the state of reform in the adult social care sector and is a damning indictment of the Government’s progress towards delivering change. Despite bold promises, we have seen social care yet again deprioritised.’
Last night, the health department insisted: ‘ We remain committed to reform and are investing up to £ 700million over this year and next to make major improvements.’