Government’s social care reforms could be ‘significantly underfunded’, LGA warns

Councils are concerned the Government’s adult social care reforms will be “significantly underfunded” under current plans, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

The organisation, which conducted a survey of councils in England, found 98% of respondents said they do not have confidence that the earmarked funding for the reforms is sufficient.

The survey also found that of the responding councils – 80 out of 152 – three quarters said they are not confident they have enough frontline staff to deliver the changes.

It comes after the Government introduced in a new health and social care tax in April, which is expected to raise £36 billion over the next three years.

Of this money, £5.4 billion is ringfenced for social care reforms, including funding the “fair rate of care” that councils will pay providers and tackling the issue of self-funders paying more than the council rate.

The LGA has warned that these changes will be “potentially hugely underfunded” and this could risk their implementation as well as exacerbate existing financial and workforce pressures.

The warning comes after research from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) estimated more than 500,000 adults are waiting for social care in England in May – a major increase on last year’s estimate of 294,000.

The LGA is now calling on the Government to rethink the plans, warning that people may otherwise see the quality and availability of care decline while paying more via increased council tax and the new health and social care levy.

The organisation also said councils indicated in the survey that other services may be affected in order to make up for the shortfall in resources needed for the reforms.

Cllr David Fothergill (pictured), chairman of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board, said: “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.

“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.”

Mr Fothergill said a higher proportion of the new tax 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.”

Mr Fotherhill said the LGA is calling on the Government to provide “immediate assurances” that they will underwrite additional costs incurred and consider further contingency measures if funding and other pressures threaten their ability to implement the reforms.

The PA news agency has contacted the Department for Health and Social Care for comment.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have made it clear reforming adult social care is a priority and we are investing £5.4 billion over the next three years to end spiralling care costs and support the workforce.

“This includes £3.6 billion to reform the social care charging system and enable all local authorities to move towards paying providers a fair cost of care, and a further £1.7 billion to begin major improvements across adult social care in England, funded by the Health and Social Care Levy.

“Our investment via the levy is on top of record annual funding to help councils respond to rising demands and cost pressures.”

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