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Almost all councils fear funding gaps for social care reform

Almost all councils (98 per cent) responding to a Local Government Association survey say adult social care reform funding is insufficient.

Concerns have grown among councils in recent months that the Government’s adult social care charging reforms are potentially hugely underfunded, which will risk their implementation as well as exacerbating existing pressures on the system.

Of the £36 billion the new UK-wide health and social levy will raise over the next three years, only £5.4 billion is ringfenced for social care reforms in England. These 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.

The survey of senior councillors responsible for adult social care across the country, ahead of the start of the LGA’s Annual Conference in Harrogate tomorrow, also found three quarters of responding councils said that they are not confident they will have the required capacity in frontline staff to deliver the reforms.

The LGA is warning that underfunded reforms will exacerbate significant ongoing financial and workforce pressures, including significant vacancy rates across the sector. These have already led to over 500,000 people waiting for an assessment, care or care reviews – up from just under 400,000 in November

Unless action is taken and government rethinks its plans, people who draw on care may experience reductions in quality and availability of care and support services, while at the same time paying more for them through the new health and social care levy and increased council tax.

If the reforms do end up costing more, and there is no further resource from Government, councils also indicated concern in the survey that other council services may be negatively impacted in order to make up for the shortfall.

Cllr David Fothergill, chairman of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board said:

“A higher proportion of the health and social care levy needs to be spent on social care to 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.”

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