Health and Social Care Budgets — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:45 am on 14th March 2017.

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Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee 9:45 am, 14th March 2017

It is a pleasure to follow the two Select Committee Chairs, my hon. Friend Meg Hillier and Dr Wollaston; we have worked very closely on these issues. It is also a great pleasure to see so many other colleagues in the Chamber today. It is obvious that social care and health issues are now coming very high up the agenda, which is absolutely right.

I will refer to the report that the Communities and Local Government Committee has just produced, “Adult social care: a pre-Budget report”. In the next few weeks, we will produce a longer report about longer-term issues in social care. To begin in the here and now, the Committee welcomed the fact that the Government have allowed local authorities to increase the precept in the next two years and have encouraged local authorities to take up that offer, while still recognising that there are challenges around the fact that the precept raises very different amounts of money in different local authority areas. We asked for an immediate further injection of £1.5 billion, so it is welcome that the Chancellor announced an increase of £1 billion, even though £1.5 billion would have been more welcome—I think that is how the Committee will look at that.

Recognising that that would not be a permanent solution for this Parliament, however, we asked for the National Audit Office to be given the responsibility to look at what is required for the rest of this Parliament—the further two years of the spending rounds—to address the issues in social care. Those issues are very real, with an increase by a third in the number of people in their 80s or 90s over a 10-year period, with local authority spending on social care down by 7% since 2010 in real terms, with the increase in the minimum wage, with the Care Act 2014 and with all these other pressures.