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Government sets out social care funding plans

Posted on 16/12/2016 by

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Communities secretary claims changes will generate nearly £900m extra for services over next two years

The government has announced a package of reforms it says will generate nearly £900m extra for adult social care services over the next two years.

Communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid said a £240m ‘adult social care support grant’ will be introduced next year to be divided by local authorities based on need. Councils will also be handed more flexibility in how they use the social care precept so that they can bring forward more funding in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Councils were previously allowed to raise council tax by up to 2% per year under the precept. However, from next year local authorities will be allowed to use the social care precept to raise council tax bills by 3% in 2017-18 and a further 3% 2018-19.

The government claims the precept reforms will allow councils to raise £208m more for adult social care in 2017-18 and £440m in 2018-19. The adult social care support grant will be funded through savings generated by reforms to the government’s ‘new homes bonus’ that currently goes to councils, said Javid.

Steve Scown, chief executive of learning disability charity Dimensions, said the money announced by Javid was a “mere fraction” of what was needed.

“Let’s not fall prey to Stockholm Syndrome. The system is still hostage to the treasury. Extra money for social care will be welcome but austerity remains austere, and the additional monies –primarily paid for by the poorest people in society – are nowhere near enough to reverse the years of underfunding in local government generally and social care specifically.”

Richard Humphries, assistant director for policy at The King’s Fund, said the government’s changes were “nowhere near enough” to address the funding gap facing authorities next year.

“The emphasis on the precept risks increasing the inequalities that mean the wealthiest parts of the country can raise up to three times as much as poorer areas. Simply passing the problem to councils to solve is inadequate.

“While the Prime Minister has committed to finding a sustainable long-term solution, there is an urgent need to explain how this will be developed. In the meantime, older people, their families and carers are being let down by a failure of political leadership. This once again underlines the need for fundamental reform to put social care on a sustainable footing for the future.”

Martin Green, chief executive of care home membership body Care England, said: “It is important to remember that this money will provide a temporary injection, but will not future-proof this sector.

“There has to be better accountability of how local authorities spend the precept: at present, few providers of frontline services have seen a meaningful change in the resources they have to provide care. A clear accountability trail is essential to progress.

“So too is an agreement on fair funding: we welcome the proposal of a Fair Funding Review, but call on government to engage with care providers in shaping its findings. We are also anxious to know the conditions attached the Adult Social Care Support Grant, and are concerned that this is not new money.”

Source: Community Care