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UK Policy Briefing

Autumn Budget 2021: Social care, gender and Covid-19

A pre-budget briefing from the UK Women’s Budget Group - October 2021

Susan Himmelweit and Dr Jerome De Henau

“The proposed ‘cap and floor’ model for allocating care costs between individuals and the state will result in many people still going without the care they need to avoid paying its costs. Families, especially women, will continue to be relied on for providing informal and unpaid care.”

The crisis in care is a longstanding one, predating both the pandemic and the financial crash, and the need for reform is urgent.

The NHS is facing short-term pressure because of the pandemic but this should be addressed using funds financed by borrowing, not by the Health and Social Care Levy. Recurrent expenditure on social care urgently needs long-term funding: this cannot wait until the NHS no longer needs extra funds. The net costs of a reformed care system must be funded by central government from general taxation.

“The NHS is facing short-term pressure because of the pandemic but this should be addressed using funds financed by borrowing, not by the Health and Social Care Levy.”

Expecting local authorities to increase funding on social care through council tax will inevitably widen regional inequalities. Those with the greatest care needs have the least ability to raise taxes and have already had to make the greatest reductions in services. The proposed ‘cap and floor’ model for allocating care costs between individuals and the state will result in many people still going without the care they need to avoid paying its costs. Families, especially women, will continue to be relied on for providing informal and unpaid care.

The government has put forward no clear plan for improving the quality of care and the treatment of care workers and reducing unsustainably long hours of unpaid care. A truly universal care service for all who meet eligibility criteria, free at the point of need, would generate 466,000 jobs in the economy as a whole and cost £28.9bn gross annually, 19% of which will be recouped through additional revenues.

The Women’s Budget Group is calling for: a universal care service, free at the point of need, that provides high-quality care; supports wellbeing, self-determination and enhanced capacities; trains and pays its staff appropriately in line with the Real Living Wage; and ensures that unpaid care is genuinely voluntary.

Read and download the full briefing here

Keywords
Social Care

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