Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘Having raised expectations of major changes to social care funding, the Conservative Party’s manifesto is deeply disappointing. Instead of fundamental reform, these proposals involve tinkering with a broken system and do not provide the sustainable solution that is desperately needed.
‘Raising the means-test threshold to £100,000 will provide some protection for people with modest assets. However, including the value of people’s properties in the means test for social care provided in their homes is likely to mean more people end up paying for these services. Abandoning the cap on care costs – a manifesto commitment just two years ago – will fail to help most of those unfortunate enough to face catastrophic costs.
‘Means testing the winter fuel allowance and diverting the money saved to health and social care will provide some additional funding but the Conservatives are the only one of the three main parties not to have made a major commitment to increase public funding for social care.
‘Failure to tackle the growing gap in local authority-funded care, which will reach £2.1 billion by 2019/20, will leave more of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens without access to the services they need. It will also further undermine a social care system that, in the words of the Care Quality Commission, is already at a tipping point.
‘We welcome the commitment to back the NHS five year forward view and sustainability and transformation plans and to legislate, if necessary, to speed up implementation of essential changes to NHS services. The pledge to review the internal market is a significant acknowledgement that collaboration rather than competition offers the best way of sustaining and transforming services. This pledge needs to be acted on urgently if the Conservative Party forms the next government.
‘Plans to increase capital spending are also welcome given the cuts in the capital budget in recent years, but we need to see more detail on this.
‘The £8 billion in additional funding for the NHS over the next five years does little more than extend the squeeze on finances for another two years and will not be enough to meet rising demand for services and maintain current standards of care. The Conservatives need to be honest with the public about the consequences for patients and their care.’
Notes to editors:
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.
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