Extremely short-sighted to drop £300 million housing funding amongst wider social care cuts
The government has confirmed that funding to integrate housing into local health and care strategies has fallen victim to budget cuts.
Our Chief Executive, Dr Carole Easton OBE, says it is a false economy to drop the funding pledge when preventative housing measures are proven to deliver significant health savings.
The government has confirmed that £300 million of funding announced in the social care white paper in 2021 to integrate housing into local health and care strategies will not now be made available because of budget cuts.
It is among a total of £600 million of previously announced funding for the next two years that has now been cut by the Department of Health and Social Care.
The government also announced that only half of £500 million originally promised last year to help local authorities with social care staff shortages will now be made available.
The 2021 white paper also promised at least £150 million in investment in digitisation across the sector, now reduced to £100 million, while £25 million previously promised to support unpaid carers was absent from today’s announcement.
Research has shown that every £1 invested in preventative home improvement measures can save up to £7 in costs to the health service.
Dr Carole Easton OBE, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said:
“It is hugely disappointing to see that the £300 million funding to integrate housing into local health and care strategies promised as part of the government’s social care white paper has now been cut. The commitments made in the white paper were a real step forward, so to now remove more resources from this sector, which is operating under almost unprecedented strain, is extremely short-sighted and harmful.
“Poor quality housing costs the NHS £1.4 billion every year with half of this cost attributed to excessively cold living conditions and a significant proportion from hazards which cause people to fall and injure themselves. Research has shown that every £1 invested in preventative home improvement measures can save up to £7 in costs to the health service.
“This was desperately needed funding which would have played an important part in helping to alleviate some of the enormous pressures on the country’s health and social care sectors. The government was right in 2021 to announce funding to ensure ‘every decision about care is a decision about housing’. The successes and challenges of the health and social care sector are inextricably linked to quality and safety of our homes and the current levels of support are inadequate.
“We need to move away from sticking plaster funding to stave off constant crises in social care which is failing people on a mass scale, and towards a longer-term approach that allows for innovation and preventative measures.
“At the moment, far too many people, and especially older people, are living in homes that worsen their health, increasing demand for health and social care services. It is also harder to alleviate those pressures if people cannot be safely discharged from hospital because their homes are unsafe and unsuitable. It is a huge false economy for the government to cut this funding.”