Experts predict £30bn real term cuts will hit 'unprotected' departments, including social careThe social care sector is braced for another round of deep spending cuts after the Conservative party secured victory in last night’s general election.
The Tories are on course to secure a small majority after the Lib Dem vote collapsed and Labour performed poorly, particularly in Scotland where the Scottish National Party won 56 of 59 seats. The shock result defies months of opinion poll results that predicted Labour and the Conservatives would be neck and neck and required to form a minority or coalition government to take power.
The victory is likely to result in more cuts to social care budgets over the next five years. The Conservatives have pledged to protect spending on the NHS, education and international aid and find £12bn of savings from the welfare bill. But according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies the Tories will also need to find £30bn in real-terms cuts from ‘unprotected’ departments, including social care and defence.
The extent of the impact on social care has yet to be confirmed. The Conservatives have promised an extra £8bn for the NHS by 2020. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary under the coalition government, told Health Service Journal that the social care sector should benefit from the NHS cash through an ‘extended’ Better Care Fund – the coalition’s pooled budget between the health service and local authorities that is designed to help compensate for the loss of funding for councils through the local government settlement.
Another key concern for social workers will be whether David Cameron rekindles his plans to extend the the criminal offence of wilful neglect to children’s social care, education and elected council members. The proposal, which could see children’s social workers face up to five years in prison for failing to protect children from sexual exploitation, drew fierce criticism from the sector.
Last night’s results saw movement in some of the key seats for MPs engaged in the social care sector over the past five years. These included:
- HELD: Conservative Nicky Morgan, who took over as the coalition’s education secretary from Michael Gove last year.
- HELD: Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, the coalition’s care minister since 2012.
- HELD: Labour’s shadow care minister Liz Kendall.
- HELD: Conservative Edward Timpson, children’s minister under the coalition since 2012.
- HELD: Labour’s shadow children’s minister Steve McCabe, a former social worker.
- HELD: Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck, a former social worker and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for social work, retained her South Shields seat.
- LOST: Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor, who drew criticism from social workers for his response to the Baby P scandal when education secretary in the last Labour government.
- LOST: Lib Dem Paul Burstow, the coalition’s care minister between 2010 and 2012.