Care minister Alistair Burt has indicated social care will benefit from the additional £8bn funding promised to the NHS, despite NHS England arguing all the money is needed for the health service.
Mr Burt’s comments came during his speech to the National Children’s and Adults Services Conference on Friday, in which he said he wanted social care to be afforded greater status by the NHS.
He said: “I am very keen to see social care have the same priority in [the] NHS as is given to hospitals and GPs and other things.”
He said he was unable to give much information about future funding of social care in advance of the spending review, which is due to be published in November, but recognised the pressure the sector was under.
“The truth is I will find out in in detail what funding is when you find out: when the chancellor stands up to deliver the autumn statement,” he said.
“I also know it isn’t as simple as me standing up and saying do the same for less. Efficiencies can be found in new ways of working which mean improvements in care and financial savings, and we have seen that in our integration pioneers, but ultimately I am aware care is expensive, workload is rising and there is a point beyond which it is genuinely very difficult to go. “
The Conservative manifesto promised an additional £8bn for the NHS by 2020, in line with the amount NHS England said would be needed to make the service sustainable. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously said social care services could expect to benefit from this money but in its submission to the spending review NHS England said the figure of £8bn was predicated on there being a sustainable social care system.
In response to a question from a delegate urging the government to rethink the planned £200m in year cut to the public health grant, Mr Burt said the government was “listening to the pleas that have been made” and added, “there will be more money put into the NHS and that is not all going to hospitals”.
The minster also used his speech to suggest families would have to play a bigger role in caring for elderly relatives in future. This was also the central theme of his boss Mr Hunt’s speech to the Local Government Association conference earlier this year.
Mr Burt said: “Providing care can’t all be down to this sector [social care]; we have to ask questions of society too. I think it will become more and more likely that to keep older people out of hospital and care homes households will become multi-generational ; parents looking after parents, children growing up closer to their grandparents.”
Echoing his predecessor as care minister, Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, Mr Burt said improving mental health care, including children’s mental health, was his “top priority”.
Previously minister for disabled people in John Major’s government, Mr Burt said it was a “deep regret” that outcomes for children in care had not improved since then. “I think the outcomes from care are probably as bad now as when I started 30 years ago. They are bad and should be a lot better.”