Hunt left ‘disappointed’ by government response to report

Jeremy Hunt MP

Former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has expressed disappointment with the government for failing to address recommendations made in a funding and workforce report.

In October, the health and social care committee described the care system as ‘unfair, confusing, demeaning, and frightening’, and called for £7bn additional funding per year by 2023/24.

It also recommended a plan to streamline the training of social care workers and said government needed to urgently tackle the problems in the sector as a priority.

Hunt, who is chair of the committee, wrote in a letter to care minister Helen Whately that he had been left disappointed by the government’s response to the Social care: funding and workforce report, as it did not provide detail on long-term funding plans or a timeline for developing proposals.

The government’s response said it had ‘provided substantial funding to support the social care sector through the pandemic’, detailing money that had been allocated. It said support for councils in England to tackle the impacts of Covid-19 totalled more than £10bn this financial year and next.

It also said during the spending review in November, the chancellor announced local authorities would have access to over £1bn additional funding for social care in 2021/22.

‘It is very disappointing that the government has failed to engage with our call to commit to increasing investment in social care by £7bn a year by the final year of the parliament,’ said Hunt. ‘This is the starting point for wider reforms and we repeat our warning that doing nothing is no longer an option.

‘Despite promises, ministers appear to have made no progress towards a genuine long-term solution to this crisis. Resolving it must be set as a priority. An intention to announce plans “this year” rings hollow in the absence of detail on process or timescale and the failure to address this alongside NHS reform.’

Whately is due to appear before the committee on Wednesday (24 February) in an inquiry into workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care.

‘The pandemic has shone its cruel light on failings in our social care system so it really is now or never for reform,’ Hunt said. ‘I look forward to discussing what progress to expect with the social care minister when she appears before the committee next week.’