Social care’s prospects for a good funding settlement in this year’s comprehensive spending review appear to have worsened following last week’s Budget, which promised education an above-average increase.
Chancellor Gordon Brown (pictured) announced a 2.5 per cent increase in real terms in education spending over the 2008-11 review period compared to a 1.9 per cent increase for public sector spending as a whole, meaning proportionately less money will be available for other services including social care.
The increase means education spending will rise from £60bn to £74bn a year by 2010.
Mounting funding pressures across adults and children’s social care, driven by rising demand, successive tight government funding settlements and NHS cost-shunting, have meant sector leaders are setting great store by the CSR, which will take place by the end of October.
Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, chair of the Local Government Association, said: “Extra money for education is good news and will help to give young people the best start in life. [But] councils are still in the dark about how they are going to pay for rising demand in elderly care.”
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services said that it also welcomed the increase in education funding but that the government “must not forget other important services for children”.
Other Budget announcements included increases to child benefit for the first child in each family, which will rise in three stages from £17.45 to £20 a week by 2010, and a £1bn increase in funding for the working tax credit.
Brown said the measures would lift 200,000 children out of poverty but the Child Poverty Action Group and children’s charity the National Children’s Bureau said that they were not enough to meet the government’s target to halve child poverty by 2010. Nor would it put ministers on track to eliminate the problem by 2020, they added.
But Kate Green, chief executive of CPAG, said: “I don’t think the Budget is where you would expect the chancellor to set out his plans [in terms of funding for children’s services]. The CSR is where you would expect to see some large new investment.”
Policy review delayed
The Treasury’s policy review of children and young people, which will inform the spending review, had been expected to come out alongside the Budget but has now been put back until later this spring. Kate Green, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said that there was still “a lot to play for” in terms of shaping the review’s recommendations.
Budget report 2007