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Hammond says discussions ongoing over social care funding

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Philip Hammond has said discussions are ongoing in the government over social care funding, after defending his decision not to act in the autumn statement to alleviate immediate pressures on the system.

Speaking in the Commons debate that followed his autumn statement yesterday, the chancellor said councils must manage the “envelope of resource” they are given.

But he added that concerns raised by local government over current funding arrangements would continue to be discussed with his cabinet colleagues.

Following sharp criticism from Labour MPs, Mr Hammond said the better care fund would deliver £1.5bn a year by the end of this parliament and the council tax social care precept would provide a further £2bn.

He said: “Opposition members are fond of talking about cuts to social care budgets, but local authorities have to manage their budgets as they think best.

“They have to manage the envelope of resource that they are given.”

But he added that he had “heard” the views of local government in relation to “profiling and how this large amount of additional money ramps up.”

“My right honorable friends the health secretary and the communities and local government secretary are extremely aware of the issue and I am discussing it with them,” Mr Hammond added.

The Conservative chair of the commons health committee, Sarah Wollaston, said she was “disappointed” that calls for the planned increased levels of better care fund towards the end of the parliament were not be brought forward to tackle immediate pressures.

But she added she was “encouraged” that the proposal was still “actively under discussion”.

Earlier, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Mr Hammond had let down vulnerable people who were not receiving vital support due to funding cuts.

He said: “Tonight, many elderly people will remain trapped in their homes, isolated and lonely, lacking the care they need because of continuing cuts to social care – and social care cannot be cut without also hitting the NHS.”

“I fear there will be a crisis in funding and care over this Christmas,” he added.

Former health secretary Andy Burnham described the fact that the chancellor did not mention social care in the autumn statement as “unbelievable”.

He added: “Six years of cuts to social care have left a record number of older people trapped in hospital and the NHS on the brink.”

The chancellor was heavily criticised yesterday by bodies including the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and County Council’s Network for failing to act to protect social care services.

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