'Big, brave and bold decision-making' is needed to tackle the crisis in adult social care, local government leaders have warned.
Responding to a report by health experts saying the system is at a 'fork in the road', Cllr Izzi Seccombe chairman of the Local Government Association said the system is in desperate need of an immediate injection of money and long-term sustainable funding.
In their report, the Health Foundation and the King’s Fund say growing numbers of vulnerable people will suffer unless the Government takes urgent action.
They say there is a choice between a means-tested system and one that is free at the point of use like the NHS, but any reform will be 'difficult and costly'.
The warnings come in the run-up to the Government's publication of a green paper setting out its proposals for reforming the system expected this summer.
Simon Bottery, senior fellow at The King’s Fund, said: ‘The case for change is overwhelming - patching up the current system would be costly and would not tackle its fundamental flaws.'
Cllr Seccombe said: 'The funding gap facing adult social care is set to exceed £2bn by 2020 and this simply addresses the impact of inflation, the National Living Wage and demographic change, but it does not address other key pressures such as unmet need, improved training, and pay and conditions for the social care workforce, including sleep-in costs.
'The majority of this pressure is now with an estimated £1.3bn of that shortfall needed to stabilise the care market.
'The Government must seize the chance to address these challenges in its green paper and deliver reforms to future-proof adult social care.'
The four models all require extra annual funding by 2020 ranging from £1.5bn to £8bn.