The Week, 10 September 2021
Parliament is back with a bang (well, for another two weeks until it breaks again for party conference season).
In just the first few months of the new Parliamentary year we have ongoing questions about social care (White Paper to come), the removal of the £20 uplift in UC, planning reform, NHS backlog and supply shortages (blood tests are currently being cancelled due to a lack of test tubes), ongoing COVID challenges, and we now have a date — 27th October — for the Budget and three-year Spending Review. For a great summary of the sticky issues the Chancellor has on his plate, read this Tortoise piece by former adviser Sam Freedman.
The big news this week was, of course, the announcement of the Government's long awaited social care plan. As we said in our on-the-day analysis, the PM should be commended for acting when successive governments have failed to do so, but Tuesday's big reveal is less a plan than a partial answer to the funding question. Partial in that the amount of cash going to social care from the NI hike, which will transform into a Health and Social Care Levy in 2023, is minimal (less than £2 billion a year for the next three years), but there is now a cap on how much someone will have to pay towards their care (£86k), and the means-test to access State support has been increased to £20k. However as we pointed out on Tuesday, the financial treatment of those needing residential versus domiciliary care remains profoundly unfair and for answers to the big delivery questions — eligibility, tackling the huge workforce shortages, addressing serious quality issues — we have to wait for the still promised White Paper.
Also this week, HMRC published the latest data on the CJRS, revealing that as of the end of July, 1.6 million people remained on furlough. This is the first data since restrictions were lifted, and the scheme ends this month. The big question is how many of those furloughed jobs turn into redundancies. Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, has a helpful thread summarising what the data tells us.
Have a lovely weekend all,