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Hancock fails to commit to social care cash boost, funds will be assessed in Spending Review

The new health and social secretary has told MPs the date for the decision on the long-term funding of vital sectors including public health, health education and social care has not yet been made.

Speaking to MPs at the Health Select Committee today, Matt Hancock also said decisions on the funds for non-acute NHS services will be made “in the normal way,” and more information will be revealed in the Spending Review next year.

He explained: “The 3.4% funding increase for the NHS has to take into account of the increasing pressures on the NHS, not least due to people living longer which is because of the work of the NHS. There are other parts of the Department of Health and Social Care budget that have not been set yet including public health, health education in England, and the question of the sustainable funding for social care.”

Prominent voices in the health sector have been calling for greater and secured funding for social care for months. In April health leaders argued that Theresa May’s long-term funding plan for the NHS should include both the NHS and social care, although former health secretary Jeremy Hunt later admitted that this would not be the case.

In June MPs called for a dedicated funding plan for integrated health and social care services in order to secure a “holistic, joined-up and coordinated experience” for patients. Former Labour and Conservative ministers also teamed up in arguing that elderly people should have access to free social care in an effort to take mounting stress off the NHS.

In the inquiry today, Hancock said strengthening prevention in social care so hospital wards are not overrun is one of his key priorities in the new job.

But committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston queried Hancock’s source of funds for non-acute sectors, adding: “It is difficult because a lot of things you have talked about as your priorities such as prevention, public health and workforce are dependent on things which are not yet set.”

Hancock replied that any new money for public health, health education, and social care will be settled in the Spending Review “in the normal way. It depends on the period that the Spending Review is going to settle, but it’s from next year onwards.” He noted that none of the funding is agreed outside of the NHS settlement that has already been proposed. 

“The vast bulk of this can be put in place strategically as part of a long-term plan, and there is a lot to be done before and after that,” the secretary of state concluded.

Top image: Stefan Rousseau via PA Wire/PA Images


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