The King's Fund responds to the announcement of a health and social care levy

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Commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement of a joint levy for health and social care, Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:

‘Overall, we welcome the historic levels of investment in both the NHS and social care announced today and the fact the government has finally grasped the nettle of social care reform. However, a large dose of realism is needed in terms of what this money will be able to deliver and how fast.

‘Credit is due for acting where previous governments have failed to deliver on social care reform. But while we welcome the proposed reforms there has to be pragmatism about what they can deliver. Social care will see only £5.4 billion over three years, with no guarantees of sustainable funding beyond this. The cap on care costs – which will consume nearly half the funding – will protect people from the very high costs of long stays in residential care, but setting it at £86,000 means it will help relatively few people. The changes to the means test are very welcome and will bring thousands more people into the publicly funded system. However, there is a real risk this will leave inadequate funding to bring about meaningful change in areas such as workforce, access and quality. While this plan certainly does not 'fix' adult social care, as the PM had promised, it is the most significant step forward for a generation. 

‘Today’s three-year funding settlement represents very significant investment in the NHS, but it is important to be realistic about how quickly the service can clear the waiting list. While we have yet to see the finer detail of the settlement, putting this funding to best use will critically depend on developing a plan to address chronic workforce shortages. Public expectations will rise with their taxes and the government must be honest about how long it will take to recruit and train enough staff to provide the tangible improvements to NHS care the public will expect.’

Notes to editors

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.