More health and social care funding

We speak up for better-funded health and social care

The British Red Cross believes sick, older and disabled people should get the support they need to live independently at home.

What’s wrong? 

Our ageing population is something to be celebrated. But with overstretched resources and funding cuts totalling £4.6 billion between 2010 and 2015, sick, older and disabled people in England are not being looked after properly.

Without adequate funding the challenges facing our health and social care system will not only persist, but get worse.

Seen from behind, a British Red Cross volunteer and an elderly man stand next to each other.

The extra £2 billion announced for adult social care in 2017 is very welcome, as is the extra money allocated to the NHS. It will help to prevent more people with care and support needs from being denied the care and dignity they deserve. 

However, it is not enough to address the impact of successive service cuts that have resulted in unprecedented levels of unmet need. 

Without a long term plan to ensure the adequate funding of our health and social care system, the challenges we are seeing today will not only persist, but get worse.

The Care Act places a duty on English councils to make sure preventative services are available locally.

However, our research suggests that the Care Act’s vision for prevention isn’t being fully realised.

The Green Paper on Social Care is a welcome step to working towards a long term plan. This must also look at how to ensure a preventative, integrated and person-centered system that adequately meets people's needs.

Who’s affected?

Over one million older people have unmet needs for care and support. At least half a million fewer people are receiving care than ten years ago.

These cuts to health and social care have forced more people into crisis and caused unnecessary suffering. More people are finding they have no one to help them with everyday care needs.

This means some people are not getting their medicine or being washed. Some are left with nobody to change their urinary catheter. Other people might fall and not be found for days.

It also means family members, who are sometimes not well themselves, are struggling to help their loved ones with day-to-day tasks. 

What needs to change?

The British Red Cross helps 84,600 people a year to live independently at home. Through this work, we have seen first-hand the positive impact support at home can have both on people and the system.

The British Red Cross believes prevention is better than cure, but currently there is a lack of accessible, early interventions.

Practical and emotional support, that is simple and effective,  can help vulnerable people maintain and regain the confidence to live independently in their own homes. This support must be provided early-on.

This support can also reduce costs for both individuals and the public purse.

The Care Act and the NHS Five Year Forward View show a willingness to change the system. Unfortunately, with overstretched resources, local authorities are struggling to meet their statutory duties let alone invest in services that prevent, reduce and delay the need for care.

In fact, local authority spend on prevention has reduced since these initiatives came into force. 

Putting prevention in action

The Red Cross worked hard for prevention to be included in the Care Act 2014 as strongly as possible and for it to be defined. 

We were successful, with three equally-important forms of prevention written into the Act. Today, all people who would benefit from doing so, no matter their level of need, should be able to access preventative services. 

However, in reality this isn't happening. The implementation of the Care Act's prevention duty has been too slow. Please see our research monitoring how prevention and integration are being implemented locally.

Read our Prevention in action report 

Our calls to decision makers:


We want a long-term, person-centred plan for health and social care in England. 

  • This should be developed in partnership with patients, professionals and the wider sector. 
  • The plan should prioritise ensuring people get the support they need to live independently at home.

We want social care to be given the priority it deserves.

  • Government should carry out an independent analysis of current and predicted levels of unmet need in the short, medium and long term, including costings.

We want to see more people able to access preventative services, and fewer people reaching the point of health and social care crisis.

  • Local authorities should implement the full ambition of the Care Act’s prevention duties.
  • Every health and wellbeing board and sustainability and transformation partnership should fully incorporate and prioritise prevention in their strategies and plans. Prevention is about more than just stopping a condition or illness arising. It is about preventing, reducing and delaying needs and associated costs
  • The Government should look again at what resources are required to enable local authorities to implement their prevention duties in a meaningful way.
  • The Government should ensure that sustainability and transformation plans are equipped with the necessary funds to truly invest in transformation.
  • The proposed upcoming green paper on social care should explore whether the Care Act’s prevention duty in its current form goes far enough in realising the prevention vision. For example, there is no individual entitlement to access preventative services, suggesting a preventative system is a nice-to-have rather than a must-have.