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Not enough money for adult social care reforms, say 98 per cent of councils in LGA survey

Almost all councils (98 per cent) responding to a Local Government Association survey on the Government's adult social care reform agenda say they do not have confidence that the funding earmarked for the reforms is sufficient.

The Chairman of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr David Fothergill, said the survey highlighted the "huge concerns" about funding that councillors have, and claimed the reforms have the "potential to tip councils over the financial edge".

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. The reforms 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, which was conducted this month (June 2022), of 80 senior councillors responsible for adult social care across England 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.

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The LGA warned that underfunded reforms would 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 review - up from just under 400,000 in November, it said.

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, the LGA stated.

The LGA also warned that other council services could be negatively impacted by having to make up for the shortfall if the reforms do end up costing more and there is no further resource from Government.

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board, said the survey "lays bare the huge concerns of councils that the Government's charging reforms are significantly underfunded".

Cllr Forthergill added: "This has the potential to tip councils over the financial edge.

"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.

"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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