William Eichler 14 November 2018

Council chiefs call for national taxation to save care services

Council chiefs call for national taxation to save care services

The Government must start making the case for increases in national taxation in order to fund the UK’s struggling adult social care services, local authority chiefs say.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is today publishing its response to its social care green paper consultation on the future of adult social care and how to fund it.

Launching it at the National Children and Adult Services Conference, the LGA makes the case for national tax rises, including to either Income Tax and/or National Insurance, in order to fund overstretched services.

Years of significant underfunding of councils, coupled with rising demand and costs for care and support, have combined to push adult social care services to breaking point.

As part of the Autumn Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced there would be an £800m boost for social care.

However, it is estimated adult social care services still face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care.

The Government’s approach to the issue has been characterised by ‘short-term incrementalism’, the LGA says, and efforts to resolve the question of long-term funding have ‘repeatedly failed.’

The LGA’s consultation response proposes raising funds through national taxation and reversing the £600m cuts to the public health budget.

Prioritising investment in prevention, community and primary health services for the £20.5bn additional expenditure for the NHS, is also recommended in the LGA’s response.

Polling by the think tank Britain Thinks has found that support for an increase in National Insurance was the most popular with the public of the options put forward with 56% of people in favour, while only 18% opposed the measure.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, commented: ‘Work to find a long-term funding solution for adult social care has been kicked into the long grass by successive governments for the past two decades and has brought these vital services to breaking point.

‘That is why the LGA took action and launched its own adult social care green paper to start the desperately-needed debate around the future of care.

‘The responses we have had make it clear beyond doubt that there is universal agreement that the current situation is unsustainable and is failing people on a daily basis.’

‘The Government must use its upcoming green paper to make a serious case for national tax rises including either increases to Income Tax and/or National Insurance to provide long term sustainability for the vital social care services that are central to helping people to live fulfilling, independent lives,’ Cllr Hudspeth continued.

‘Now is the time for answers. And every day that is spent further defining the problem and consulting on changes that only really tinker at the edges of the debate, is another day in which people’s lives are not being lived to the full.

‘The Government needs to be bold in the solutions it puts forward but it is incumbent upon politicians of all colours to cooperate and be part of a wider movement for change in the national interest.’

Responding to the LGA report, George McNamara, director of policy and influencing at Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said: 'It is a travesty that social care has been neglected by politicians for so long, forcing it to the brink of collapse.

'Our research on the future funding of care found that not only would increasing National Insurance or Income Tax bring in over £5.5 billion, but that the public support it.

'This would make providing free personal care for all older people a real possibility. The Government must take the bull by the horns and give social care the money needed to end the crisis in care and ensure older people thrive, not just survive.'

 
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