Commenting on the complete absence of help in the Autumn Statement for social care or the NHS, UNISON South West regional secretary Joanne Kaye said:
“Hopes were raised the Chancellor would find extra cash for social care, and ease the burden on the NHS and local councils struggling to keep a lid on the growing crisis. Across our region, local authorities are already reporting running out of money for care, with overspends of £16m in Cornwall, £9m in Somerset, and £11m in Bristol to name just a few.
“Instead the government has chosen to ignore social care, preferring to look the other way as a growing number of elderly people are getting no care at all.
“Scrimping on social care is a false economy. Older people are often stranded in hospitals, unable to go home, using beds needed by other patients. This turns up the heat on our overstretched NHS, which has also been forgotten about today. The Chancellor’s published document didn’t even mention the NHS nor social care once – a shocking set of priorities given the importance of health and care services to so many people in the South West.
“The minimum wage increase means unbearable pressure on care budgets while not doing enough for low paid workers in the South West. The losers will be older people needing care and the dedicated workforce struggling to look after them.”
“The government is spreading the ‘jam’ far too thinly. Public service workers and the health, education and local council services they provide are hurting badly.
“There were few signs the chancellor has recognised the need for public investment in the South West. £191m for unaccountable SW Local Enterprise Partnerships and the promise of some extra borrowing powers are scant comfort amidst a £6.1bn cut for local council budgets by the end of the decade.
“And with the Brexit storm clouds gathering, the grim economic outlook can only spell more despair for public services.