Nine in ten (89 per cent) of councils say national taxation must be part of the solution to securing the long-term financial stability of adult social care.
Ahead of its Annual Conference in Birmingham next week, the Local Government Association has polled the leaders and adult social care cabinet members in all 152 councils providing social care in England to gauge their views on the options for funding adult social care and support for the long-term.
The survey – the first of its kind by the LGA – reveals that 96 per cent believe there is a major national funding problem in adult social care.
England’s 152 social care authorities have been able to increase council tax in recent years to pay for adult social care. The LGA has warned that extra council tax income cannot be expected to plug growing funding gaps and protect adult social care services from further cutbacks and more than two thirds of councils (70 per cent) responding to the survey agree that increasing council tax is not part of the solution.
A separate LGA public poll reveals nearly nine out of 10 people (87 per cent) surveyed believe that councils should be given more government funding to tackle the funding gap in the sector.
The LGA said the findings further demonstrate that bold and possibly radical political decisions are urgently needed to provide a long-term and sustainable solution to funding adult social care.
In the disappointing absence of the Government’s Green Paper on adult social care, now delayed until the autumn, the LGA today also announces that it will publish its own Green Paper on adult social care later in July, complete with consultation and engagement, to kick-start an urgently-needed debate about how as a society we should fund this vital service in the future.
There is growing political and public consensus that councils should be given more funding to pay for adult social care. Council leaders say it is essential that national political parties come together to try and build consensus on the way forward, working closely with councils as a key partner in designing and implementing possible future changes.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Our surveys show beyond doubt that the overwhelming majority of both our national politicians, and the people they represent, will settle for nothing less than additional funding from Government to help solve the social care funding crisis.
“Public polling consistently demonstrates that the British public is proud of the NHS and wants to see funding for it increase, even if that means paying more tax. We are now seeing similar consensus on the need for more funding for adult social care.
“Properly funding social care and prevention services not only helps councils with overly-stretched budgets protect care services for the benefit of those requiring them, it also helps to prevent further crises in the NHS and saves the health service a fortune by keeping people safe and well in their own homes, reducing the number of hospital admissions.
“We need an amnesty on the politics of care funding reform. All options should be on the table to solve the funding crisis in adult social care and enable councils to meet growing demand with high quality and safe services that help people live their lives. The longer we wait for long-term reforms, the more likely we will see an unresolvable year-round problem in A&E.
“The funding crisis cannot be ignored any longer which is why the LGA is now writing its own Green Paper on adult social care in a bid to engage the public, politicians and the adult social care sector to help shape official legislation to best help people of all ages with care needs access a wide range of reliable and high quality care they deserve.”
Meanwhile Care England, a representative body for independent providers of social care, has welcomed a report from the joint inquiry by the Health Select Committee and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee into the long term funding of adult social care.
The joint report calls for the introduction of a ‘Social Care Premium’, either as an additional element of National Insurance, or with the premium paid into dedicated not-for-profit social insurance fund that people would be confident could only be used for social care. It describes the social care system as “under very great and unsustainable strain”. Ahead of the Government’s Green Paper, which is now expected in the autumn, it highlights the urgent need to plug a funding gap estimated at up to £2.5 billion in the next financial year, before introducing wider funding reforms at both a local and national level to raise extra revenue with a long-term aspiration of providing social care free at the point of delivery.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, who was summoned to give evidence to the inquiry where he reiterated the sector’s calls for fairer funding, says:
“The inquiry identifies the substantial funding gap and recognises that it needs to be made up now with an immediate cash injection. If the Government can find the funds for the NHS, we believe that social care should have an equal opportunity. Given the intrinsic link between health and social care it is nonsensical to resource one without the other”.
The report is based on six principles for funding social care that the Committees recommend should underpin the development of social care policy.
- Providing high quality care
- Considering working age adults as well as older people
- Ensuring fairness on the ‘who and how’ we pay for social care, including between the generations
- Aspiring over time towards universal access to personal care free at the point of delivery
- Risk pooling – protecting people from catastrophic costs, and protecting a greater portion of their savings and assets
- ‘Earmarking’ of contributions to maintain public support.
Professor Martin Green continues:
“The inquiry identifies a number of very helpful long term solutions, but even if enacted they will not deliver soon enough to stop crisis and closures of care homes across the country. We hope that the Government will embrace the urgency of the present moment and press ahead with all the necessary partners to provide urgent support to a sector that is struggling”.