The Implications of the Autumn Spending Review

Wednesday was the highly anticipated release of the Autumn Spending Review. As always, there was speculation in the run up to Osborne’s announcement as to how the health and social care sector would be affected.

Our teams at Making Space were watching the coverage, live from Parliament, and have summarised below the key points regarding our industry.

  • Health budget in England to rise from £101 billion to £120 billion by 2020/2021.
  • The NHS England will receive an upfront cash injection of £3.8 billion next year as part of the £8 billion addition funding agreed between 2015- 2016 and 2020-2021.
  • NHS England are expected to make £22 billion in efficiency savings while Department of Health resource budget to fall by 25%.
  • An extra £600 million will be earmarked for mental health services.
  • Grants for student nurses will be scrapped and replaced by repayable loans, saving £820 million.
  • The cap on training places for nurses will be scrapped, and a goal suggested of increasing numbers by 10,000.
  • New social care ‘precept’ in council tax of up to 2% to allow local councils to raise £2 billion for social care.
  • Better Care Social Fund to be increased by 1.9%.
  • £15 million that will be raised from charging VAT on sanitary products to be given to women’s health charities.

As usual these decisions received a mixed response, but particularly positive is the investment in mental health services. However, disappointingly there were several issues that were not broached. One of these was to provide extra support for individuals who are planning and funding their own social care, which is unfortunately increasing year on year.

After reading through some responses from yesterday’s announcement, a few seem to hold the opinion that the NHS has received increased support in this review, whereas social care has been deprioritised. If, as planned, NHS organisations do receive a lump sum it will be each localities choice on how it is spent. There are thousands of hospitalised patients that would be better supported in a home, community or social care setting, which would surely be the sensible way to spend the additional cash. NHS leaders seem to agree with this as it was reported that 87% of them told the NHS Confederation they want a five year financial commitment from the government on both health and social care. This may be something that will feature in the next review.

Focussing on the positives, healthcare in general seems to have been given more support by the Conservative government than it has received in years, which will start to relieve the increasing pressure various trusts and organisations have been under and enable more collaborative and integrated service offerings.