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Councils diverting £1bn to cover ‘crisis’ in care funding

Councils will have to divert more than a billion pounds from services like fixing potholes and running libraries and museums to deal with the rising cash ‘crisis’ in elderly care funding, council leaders have stated. 

Analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, revealed that in the next financial year (2015-16) councils will have to find £1.1bn from other service budgets to continue protecting adult social care spending in cash terms. 

Council leaders said they had to take £900m from other services to help plug adult social care funding last year, and warned that the crisis in elderly care funding will have crippling repercussions for widely used local services as well as the NHS unless it is fixed. 

In 2013-14, councils spent £14.6bn on adult social care, approximately 35% of local government spending. However, they fear for the continued service provision as many will see their core government funding cut by 8.8% in 2015-16, following the Local Government Finance Settlement published in December. 

Cllr David Sparks, chair of the LGA, said: “Adult social care funding is in crisis. Even with councils pulling out the stops to shield social care from the cuts, our vulnerable elderly and disabled are seeing some support scaled back and waiting times grow when they press the call button.

“Government's failure to properly fund the ever-growing cost of care is short-changing not just those who use and need it. It is taking a toll on everyone who relies on councils to fix the roads, provide buses and keep our parks, libraries and leisure centres open.” 

The analysis, based on current spending patterns, highlighted that the £1.1bn  diverted funding is equivalent to the cost of filling 20 million potholes; running 3,800 libraries; and employing 80,000 school crossing patrol attendants. 

But the Government said it had “sought to protect” spending on social care as much as possible, but the allocation of resources was a matter for local authorities. 

Graeme McDonald, director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace), said: “Figures released today show that, next year alone, councils will need to cut £1.1bn from other services to protect social care. 

“The next secretary of state will need to confront this, it cannot be postponed any longer. Councils have led the way on deficit reduction but are rapidly approaching breaking point.” 

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