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Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls are today (Wednesday) issuing a joint call on the Government, in advance of today’s statement on social care, to use NHS under-spends to help tackle the growing social care crisis which hits some of the most vulnerable people in society.
The Tory-led Government’s deep cuts to local authority budgets have pushed an already stretched system to breaking point.
The Government’s own figures show that more than £1 billion has been cut from local council budgets for elderly care since the Government came to power.
As the Government has now confirmed that the NHS has this year under-spent its budget by £1.7bn – £1.4bn of which now returned to the Treasury - we propose that the Treasury exceptionally allow a £700m “End year flexibility” carry forward, half of the Department of Health under-spend, to be ring-fenced for social care budgets this year.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“Today’s proposals are meaningless without the money to make them a reality. George Osborne should get his act together and hand back half the money he has taken from the Health budget.
“The Government is failing to face up to England’s care crisis. Older and vulnerable people are seeing support withdrawn and increased charges for care. Councils are in danger of being overwhelmed and the NHS simply won’t be able to function if things are left as they are.”
Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:
“I heard from local government leaders earlier last month their deep concerns about the future of this vital service, and about the heartbreaking decisions they are being forced to make right now.
“George Osborne’s Spending Review, which has seen over £1bn cut from budgets for elderly care, has set social care on a collision course with crisis. The Government must act both to address the urgent crisis we face - and to bring forward long term reforms which they have committed to working with us to deliver.
“George Osborne and Andrew Lansley could and should act.”