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14.11.18

Government must plug £3.6bn social care funding gap with tax rise, councils say

The government urgently needs to raise taxes to plug the £3.6bn funding gap in adult social care and must address this in its delayed social care green paper, the LGA has said.

Councils blamed “years of significant underfunding” coupled with rising demand for pushing adult social care services to “breaking point.”

The LGA predicts an additional £3.6bn will be needed by 2025 just to maintain the existing level of care, warning that workforces are already overstretched and that major providers are on the verge of collapse.

It is now calling for the government to “abandon this short-term incrementalism” and makes the case for a national tax rise so that the long-term future of social care services can be secured.

A consultation commissioned by the LGA looking into the future of adult social care found that national insurance increases were the most popular method for raising funds for adult social care, with 56% of respondents supporting the idea.

With an “ever more fragile provider market” and “growing un-met and under-met need,” the LGA launched its own Green Paper to “kick-start a desperately-needed debate” on how councils would continue to pay for social care in the future.

Amidst a backdrop of extensive local government cuts, social care has been relatively protected compared to other services, but still faces multi-billion pound funding gaps in the immediate future.

The report puts forward the LGA’s recommendations for the government’s own Green Paper, such as urgently injecting new national investment to address the social care funding gap, and making the case for national tax rises in either income tax or national insurance.

It said that other priorities should include reversing the cuts of £600m to the public health budget between 2015-2020, and prioritising investment in prevention services for the £20.5bn extra funding for the NHS.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “Work to find a long-term funding solution for adult social care has been kicked into the long grass by successive governments for the past two decades and has brought these vital services to breaking point.

“The government needs to be bold in the solutions it puts forward but it is incumbent upon politicians of all colours to cooperate and be part of a wider movement for change in the national interest.”

He said that high quality adult social care is “vital to society,” supports around 1.5 million jobs, and contributes £46bn to the UK economy.

The CCN’s health and social care spokesperson David Williams said: “County leaders have long argued for government to be bold in reform, and today’s public polling suggests that the public agree.

“We believe that national taxation solution to social care should be considered, whether from national insurance, general taxation, or from the recently-floated over 40s levy.

“At the same time, prevention must be at the heart of the reform agenda.”

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Image credit - Daisy-Daisy

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