William Eichler 27 June 2022

Underfunding of social care to tip councils ‘over financial edge’

Underfunding of social care to tip councils ‘over financial edge’ image
Image: Chinnapong/Shutterstock.com.

Senior councillors responsible for adult social care across the country have warned that the Government’s adult social care charging reforms are ‘potentially hugely underfunded’.

It is estimated that the new UK-wide health and social levy will raise £36bn over the next three years. However, only £5.4bn is ringfenced for social care reforms in England.

The reforms in question include the introduction of a ‘fair rate of care’ that councils will pay providers and tackling the issue of self-funders paying more for their care than those who access support at the council rate.

A new survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that almost all councils (98%) said that they do not have confidence that the funding earmarked for the reforms is sufficient.

Three quarters of responding councils also said that they are not confident they will have the required capacity in frontline staff to deliver the reforms.

Speaking ahead of the start of the LGA’s Annual Conference in Harrogate tomorrow, Cllr David Fothergill, chairman of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board warned that underfunding the reforms will increase the pressure on already over-stretched services.

‘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,’ he said.

‘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.’

According to the LGA, over 500,000 people are currently waiting for an assessment, care or care reviews – up from just under 400,000 in November.

Cllr Fothergill added: ‘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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