Adult social care charging reforms hugely underfunded, warn councils

Over 500,000 people are still on waiting lists for care assessments.

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Councils have been more concerned in recent months about the prospect for severe underfunding of the Government’s adult social care charging reforms, which councils say will jeopardise their implementation and exacerbate already-existing stresses on the system.

Only £5.4 billion of the £36 billion that the new UK-wide health and social levy would generate over the following three years is set aside for social care improvements in England.

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These include establishing a “fair rate of care” that councils will pay service providers and addressing the issue of self-funders paying a higher price for their care than others who get help at the council rate.

Three quarters of responding councils indicated they are not confident they will have the necessary capacity in frontline staff to implement the reforms, according to the survey of senior councillors nationwide who are in charge of adult social care, which was conducted ahead of the start of the LGA’s Annual Conference in Harrogate tomorrow.

The LGA warns that inadequately financed changes would exacerbate serious existing personnel and budgetary difficulties, including substantial vacancy rates throughout the sector.

Over 500,000 people are now waiting for an evaluation, care, or care reviews as a result of these, up from just under 400,000 in November.

People who require care may see a decline in the quality and accessibility of care and support services, while also having to pay more for them thanks to the new health and social care levy and raised council tax, unless action is done and the government reconsiders its plans.

Councils also expressed worry in the study that other services may suffer in order to make up for the gap if the reforms do wind up costing more and there are no additional resources from the government.

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Adult social care reform’s primary goal is to make it easier for those who need social services to live better, more equitable lives. The results of this poll raise major questions about whether councils will be able to accomplish these goals under the Government’s intentions.

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board said: “This survey lays bare the huge concerns of councils that the Government’s charging reforms are significantly underfunded. This has the potential to tip councils over the financial edge.

“Underfunding these reforms will only exacerbate pre-existing significant pressures, which the reforms – and the funding for them – do nothing to address.

“These include unmet and under-met need, greater strain on unpaid carers and increased waiting times for assessments and delivery of care packages.

“A higher proportion of the health and social care levy needs to be spent on social care to tackle these issues and create stable foundations for these reforms.

“Councils are stretched thin as it is, and my colleagues across the county have highlighted how many of their council services could be impacted by the cost of these reforms.

“Local government is seeking immediate assurances that the Government will underwrite any additional costs councils incur and will work with councils as a matter of urgency to consider further mitigations that may need to be used if funding, capacity and timescale pressures threaten implementation.”

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