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More money for social care but the Chancellor is still on borrowed time

For Philip Hammond, the chorus of concern surrounding social care must have felt relentless.

The country's leading health think-tanks, the Chair of the Commons Health Select Committee, even the normally circumspect chief of NHS England himself, all lining up to tell him how desperate the need for extra funding had become.

It seems he was listening. After his remarkable decision not to mention health and social care in his Autumn Statement, his first full Budget included the announcement of an extra £2 billion over the next three years to stem the immediate crisis.

How the money will be shared out isn't yet clear.

Remember the number of people getting support from councils has fallen by a quarter in just five years, with government cuts over the past seven years seeing local authorities lose £5 billion from their adult social care services.So will the new funds be enough to provide for the many thousands of people reliant on social care?

An independent assessment by three leading think tanks - the Health Foundation, the Kings Fund and the Nuffield Trust - calculated a funding gap in the care sector of £1.9 billion this year.

The Chancellor's money won't cover that - and the prediction is the gap will rise to £2.3 billion by the end of parliament.

The Chancellor announced new funding for social care. Credit: ITV News

That's not just bad news for those who need help to get fed, washed and dressed every day. This isn't just about dignity, however important that is. Because even if old age seems a long way off, we are all indirectly affected by shortcomings in social care.

As the Budget made clear, when social care packages aren't readily available, the elderly and vulnerable find themselves stuck in hospital.

That's contributed to the number of delayed discharges almost doubling in the past 5 years. With hospitals recording higher bed occupancy in the last three months of 2016 than at any time since records began, the knock-on effect stretches all the way back to the queues in Accident and Emergency.

And the demographics show demand for care will only increase, with the Chancellor reminding us there will be two million more over 75-year-olds in 10 years time.

So the real question isn't whether Hammond's cash injection will get us through to the end of the parliament. It's whether the Government's Green Paper on a long-term funding strategy - also announced today for later this year - will actually deliver.

Make no mistake, the countless government reviews before it haven't.

And that means that when it comes to social care - right now the Chancellor is living on borrowed time.

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