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Council launches judicial review of government over Care Act funding

West Berkshire Council has launched a judicial review against the government, claiming it has failed to meet a commitment to fully fund the costs of introducing the Care Act.

The council claims it has been left with a funding gap of £3m. It said that after performing “extensive modelling” of the likely impact of new Care Act duties it estimated that it would cost the council £5.2m in 2015-16, but it had only received £2.2m from the government.

Many authorities and local government bodies have had concerns over funding for the Act. In September last year London Councils warned that London boroughs will need £90m to ensure appropriate systems and infrastructure are set up to implement the changes, leaving a funding gap of £36m with a the government’s apparent funding offer of £54m.

At the time a spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “A major concern for councils is uncertainty over the number of people in local areas who are paying for their own care who could now request an assessment under the new system to limit the care costs they have to meet.

“Without proper funding, councils may not be able to meet this additional demand for assessments placing a further strain on local budgets.”

In a statement on the West Berkshire Council website, the authority said that Care Act “sets out an expectation for West Berkshire council to provide levels of social care to substantially more people than it is currently able to”.

“The government had previously said that it would fully fund the demands the Care Act placed on councils, but has now said that the necessary money for West Berkshire will not be forthcoming,” the statement continued.

“This leaves West Berkshire with a funding gap of £3m. The council has had to set its budget for the new financial year which has meant using reserves to bridge the gap. These have to be replenished over the next 12 months, which will put further pressure on local services.

“West Berkshire Council has now mounted a legal challenge against the government. This judicial review will claim the government process which resulted in the inadequate funding, is unlawful

“The Council says that the government has placed it in an intolerable financial situation, having progressively reduced the annual grant for public services, and effectively capped the extra amount that could be raised from council tax. Now, their failure to fund the Care Act leaves the council with no option but to challenge the government's decision.”

The legal claim was issued on Monday 16 March.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We await the Court’s decision on whether this will go forward.”

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