LGA launches own green paper on adult social care
The Local Government Association (LGA) has today launched a nationwide consultation to kick-start what it says is a desperately-needed debate on how to pay for adult social care and rescue the services caring for older and disabled people from collapse.
The consultation – the biggest launched by the LGA – is seeking the views of people and organisations from across society on how best to pay for care and support for adults of all ages and their unpaid carers, and aims to make the public a central part of the debate. The LGA will respond to the findings in the autumn to inform and influence the Government’s green paper and spending plans.
Years of significant underfunding of councils, coupled with rising demand and costs for care and support, have combined to push adult social care services to breaking point, says the LGA.
Since 2010 councils have had to bridge a £6bn funding shortfall just to keep the adult social care system going. In addition the LGA estimates that adult social care services face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care, while latest figures show that councils in England receive 1.8 million new requests for adult social care a year – the equivalent of nearly 5,000 a day.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said decades of failures to find a sustainable solution to how to pay for adult social care for the long-term, and the Government’s recent decision to delay its long-awaited green paper on the issue until the autumn, had prompted council leaders to take action.
“Work to find a long-term funding solution for adult social care and support has been kicked into the long grass by successive governments for the past two decades and has brought these services to breaking point,” said Cllr Seccombe.
“It has created a deeply uncertain and worrying future outlook for people who use adult social care services now and the growing number of people who will need them in the future.
“We cannot duck this issue as a society any longer. Our green paper is the start of a nationwide public debate about the future of care for all adults, and how best to support their wellbeing, and we encourage as many people and organisations to have their say on how we pay for it and the responsibilities of citizens, families and communities.”
The LGA says short-term cash injections had not prevented care providers reluctantly closing their operations or returning contracts to councils, resulting in less choice and availability to a rising number of people with care needs. This is increasing the strain on an already-overstretched workforce and unpaid carers, and leading to more people not having their care needs met.
Increased spend on adult social care – which now accounts for nearly 40% of total council budgets – is threatening the future of other vital council services, such as parks, leisure centres and libraries, which help to keep people well and from needing care and support and hospital treatment.
The LGA eight-week consultation sets out options for how the system could be improved and radical measures it says need to be considered given the scale of this funding crisis. Possible solutions to paying for adult social care in the long-term outlined in the consultation include:
- Increasing income tax for taxpayers of all ages.
- A 1p rise on the basic rate could raise £4.4 billion in 2024/25.
- Increasing national insurance – a 1p rise could raise £10.4 billion in 2024/25.
- A Social Care Premium: charging the over-40s and working pensioners an earmarked contribution (such as an addition to National Insurance or another mechanism). If it was assumed everyone over 40 was able to pay the same amount (not the case under National Insurance), raising £1bn would mean a cost of £33.40 for each person aged 40+ in 2024/25.
- Means testing universal benefits, such as winter fuel allowance and free TV licences, could raise £1.9 billion in 2024/25.
- Allowing councils to increase council tax – a 1 per cent rise would generate £285 million in 2024/25.
Alongside funding issues, the LGA green paper also seeks to start a debate about how to shift the overall emphasis of the care and health system so that it focuses far more on preventative, community-based personalised care, which helps maximise people’s health, wellbeing and independence and alleviates pressure on the NHS.
- The consultation will run for eight weeks from 31 July. To respond to the consultation, visit www.futureofadultsocialcare.co.uk or answers to the questions put can be submitted to: email@example.com