Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Spending Review’s £1 billion for social care deemed “a short-term solution” by disability charities and organisations

Part acquired through a new grant, these funds will be used to assist local authorities in meeting an increasing demand for social care provisions. Local authorities can determine how the £1 billion is distributed between services.

In documents released after Javid’s speech, the potential for additional funding for adult and children’s social care has been revealed, raised through a 2% Adult Social Care precept.* The government has yet to consult on this but it would give councils access to an extra £0.5 billion, bringing the total to £1.5 billion. This figure is in addition to maintaining £2.5 billion of existing social care grants.

Billy Davis, Public Affairs and Policy Manager at Hft commented:

“The Chancellor’s pledge of an additional £1.5bn for adult and children’s social care over the next year falls woefully short of the estimated £3bn needed to keep a financially sustainable footing for the adult social care sector alone.

“With the Prime Minister announcing Theresa May’s planned green paper on social care will be replaced by his own white paper, the publication of which has been delayed, this additional funding feels like a short-term solution to an ongoing problem.

“We believe that the time for short-term solutions is over. This is why Hft, in partnership with Tunstall, is calling for a Sector Deal for the learning disability sector. By incentivising local authorities and providers to invest in the long-term future of their services, we believe we can realise the untapped potential of assistive technologies to offer more meaningful support to adults with learning disabilities. This will not only stimulate innovation, but also help reduce local authority spending in a way that does not compromise the financial stability of the sector, or the quality of support that it is able to provide.”

Hft is a national charity that supports adults with learning disabilities.

VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said:

“The funding of social care is a long story of sustained political failure to invest.

“The Chancellor’s commitments today represent no more than a small step forward. To deliver a meaningful solution will require political nerve and insight which to date has not been evident.”

VODG is a membership body representing organisations within the voluntary sector who work alongside disabled people.

Oonagh Smyth, Executive Director Strategy and Influence at Mencap says:

“Whilst we welcome this much needed emergency injection of funding into the system, sadly it represents the bare minimum needed just to keep the system from completely falling apart.  

“For the last decade, social care has not just been chronically underfunded, it has also been undervalued. We desperately need the ‘brave solution’, as promised by our PM, and will mean difficult conversations about how we all pay for it. Most of us will need social care at some stage – whether it is for ourselves or for a loved one.”

Mencap is a charity that works to support people with a learning disability, their families, and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment, and leisure facilities.

Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: 

“While additional funding for children with SEND including autism is welcome, sadly the scale of underfunding is a lot greater than £700 million. The recent report from the Commons Education Committee clearly points to a high-needs deficit of more than £1 billion by 2021. 

“We also need to ensure that the overall education system and funding is geared to meet the needs of autistic children. There are more than 130,000 autistic pupils in our education system, with 70% of them in mainstream schools. It is therefore vital that additional funding for SEN support is audited to ensure it is spent on supporting these young people to learn, thrive and achieve.  

“We need schools to be more autism-confident and for there to be greater accountability in the universal funding system. Without this, we will continue to see more pressure on specialist support services, which impacts on the high needs funding that local authorities have. While this additional funding will help, it will not provide the boost Prime Minister Boris Johnson has talked about, which means children with autism will continue to be left out and left behind. 

“In the long term, funding for SEND and the high needs allocation must meet and keep pace with the increasing demand and support needs of all children and young people with autism in early years, schools and colleges.”

Ambitious about Autism is the national charity for children and young people with autism.

Sally Warren, Director of policy at The King’s Fund, said:

“In the context of a one-year settlement, today’s commitments to extra funding are better news for health and social care services than may have been expected. NHS England already benefits from a five year financial settlement, but the decision not to commit to a longer-term settlement for the rest of the health and care system will leave the NHS, social care and public health without the certainty needed to stabilise and improve services as set out the NHS Long-term Plan. It’s the equivalent of putting a bit of extra fuel in the tank when the car urgently needs a full service.

“Adult social care was the most pressing priority facing the Government in this spending round, and the Chancellor has provided much-needed extra funds. But the money provided today is the bare minimum needed to patch up services for another year and will not be enough to improve services for the people, families and carers who are being let down by the current system. Significant reform and a long-term funding settlement are urgently needed to deliver a fairer, simpler and more generous system.

“The health and care workforce is in crisis with endemic staff shortages. The extra money pledged for Health Education England, including £150 million for the continuing professional development funding for nurses and midwives, is welcome. But this funding is not enough to support the increase in training places needed to tackle the workforce crisis across health and care.

“Today’s announcement halts the decline in public health budgets following years of damaging cuts. But it is a long way from the £1 billion needed to reverse cuts to vital local services such as sexual health clinics, stop smoking support and drug treatment.

“Overall, today’s funding announcements start to make up for lost ground but do not provide the investment needed to deliver improvements in quality and access to health and care services.”

The King’s Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England.

United Response chief executive Tim Cooper said:

“The Chancellor’s announcement this week of £1.5bn for councils to use in social care is a vital shot in the arm for the sector. But piecemeal investment to merely ‘stabilise the system’, as the Chancellor himself concedes, is simply not enough.

“The current adult social care system is in a critical condition and vital services for people with learning disabilities and autism or at serious risk of collapse. Real investment and a long-term, sustainable approach is now needed more than ever – instead, the continued absence of the much-delayed green paper leaves the sector scratching its head.

“Government must bring forward its plans for adult social care without any further delay and set about tackling a funding crisis threatening a long-suffering sector and the many thousands of lives depending on it.”

United Response is a national charity that provides person-centred support to around 3,000 adults and young people with learning disabilities, mental health needs or physical disabilities.



* This estimate of Core Spending Power assumes a 2% Core Referendum Principle and a 2% Adult Social Care Precept for illustrative purposes. The government will consult on Council Tax Referendum Principles later this year as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement.

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