"The Chancellor’s decision to avoid reference to social care funding... is a missed opportunity to promote growth, as the social care sector has the potential to create more jobs."
Reflecting on the Budget and key aspects of our work at Future Care Capital, social care and technology are at the front of my mind.
The recent Government White Paper Integration and Innovation was positive in terms of integration of heath and care at provider services level. But I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise that this week’s Budget made no provision for much needed extra funding for social care.
It’s over 18 months since the Government promised to “fix” social care. The lack of any spending commitment for the sector in this Budget no doubt reflects concerns that this would be seen as the precursor to higher council tax bills in the run-up to the local elections in May.
But the Chancellor’s decision to avoid reference to social care funding in any form during his speech does stand out. Let’s remember, while this particular can continues to be kicked down the road, the profile of social care has perhaps never been higher. The pandemic has accentuated the public’s understanding of the value and efforts of social care professionals and carers in general.
It’s also a missed opportunity to promote growth, as the sector has the potential to create more jobs. We’re 10 years on from the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission which set out a way forward for social care. Ministers also need to address the issue for more pragmatic reasons. Not ‘fixing’ social care will continue to put pressure on the system elsewhere.
Having said all that there are positives to take from this budget in relation to the future of health and care. What it did do was to put some meat on the bones of the Government’s vision for the UK as a ‘global superpower’ when it comes to technology and innovation.
This chimes well with the work we are doing at Future Care Capital. Just last week we held a webinar on technology and innovation in social care where we discussed the issues set out in our Landscape Review on home-care technology.
This is an area of research we plan to expand on, facilitating further debate and raising awareness of the many possibilities.
The term ‘global superpower’ might sound like hyperbole for this small island in modern times. But this is not pie-in-the-sky thinking. I believe we could really do it. Thinking about the wider strategy, the NHS and the many technology start-ups in this country, this could serve as a dynamo for jobs and growth.
Innovators in this country have a great track record of demonstrating success in scaling up technological innovation and delivering care in different ways. We know from our FCC research and related events and debates that there are also many new start-ups out there keen to enter this space and work with others to develop the care tech solutions we need.
The situation we have faced during this pandemic and now – hopefully – coming out the other side has to be viewed in the context of the financial challenges that the Budget is trying to address.
Innovation and technology are going to be a key part of the solution. For us in health and social care, new tech will be crucial for future care delivery in a fit-for-purpose health and care system. Provision based on a bricks and mortar model will remain important. But the possibilities are perhaps endless for technology to transcend boundaries and reach more people in need of care.
Health – and social care, in particular – need more money but that must also be set in the context of a rapidly changing global context. Whilst the Chancellor disappointed on the financial front at the despatch box, his ambition around technology and innovation is most welcome. In these difficult times, that is something to embrace.