Saturday the 12th of June

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Social care funds may have been blocked by Downing Street says ex-Health Secretary

Downing Street may have blocked a new funding package for social care services ahead of the Autumn Statement, Andy Burnham has claimed.

Labour’s former health secretary said councils had been led to believe that money for care services would be made available in the statement and were left stunned when it did not materialise.

Chancellor Philip Hammond came under fire after failing to allocate more cash to social care when he set out his spending plans at the end of November.

Mr Burnham said he had been told that Number 10 had stopped a proposed new deal on social care funding.

“Ahead of the Christmas recess and ahead of what seems to be a dangerous winter in the NHS, isn’t there an overwhelming case for the Government to come to the House in its own time and explain what is happening with the funding of social care?” Mr Burnham said.

“Councils had been led to believe that there would be an announcement in the Autumn Statement and they were left stunned, and indeed people on both sides of the House, when the Chancellor couldn’t even mention the word.

“I am told Number 10 blocked a deal on social care – there was a funding package that had been prepared calling for more work on funding options.

“Now I don’t know whether or not that is true, but what I do know is that people working out in the NHS have a right to know because they need to plan and ministers need to come to this despatch box and tell us what the hell is going on.”

Commons Leader David Lidington said the Government had already taken action to provide social care services with more funding.

“The Government, as the Secretary of State for Health has made clear, is engaged in some very serious and coordinated winter planning and the NHS at national, regional and local level has winter plans in place to manage the increase in demand that we always expect at that time of year,” he said.

“You referred to social care and yes, I think all of us in our constituencies are aware of the pressures which do exist but that is why the Government has made available the Social Care Precept and the Better Care Fund to make sure that additional resources are available to local authorities.”

Picture: Andy Burnham. (Nick Ansell/PA).