The social care system on the verge of collapse, a Commons committee report has found.
The review of local government finance and 2019 spending review by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee published in August confirms a £5bn funding gap for local authorities. A decade of funding cuts and uncertainty over the 2020/21 financial settlement has left the social care system on the verge of collapse, a Commons committee report has found.
Extracts from the report
The report confirms that social care (both for adults and children) is taking up an increasing share of local councils’ financial resources. Sir Amyas Morse told us “it is a fact that overall service spending has been reducing, and has been more concentrated on social care activities, which are statutory”.
Professor Travers noted that “between 2000 and 2018–19, the proportion of comparable local government spending that is devoted to social care has gone up from around 44% or 45% to nearly 60%”. This trend is set to continue in the future. Analysis from the IFS on forecast needs for adult social care noted that “meeting projected demands for adult social care spending would require an increase in the share of local tax revenues allocated to these services over the next 15 years”.
Lord Porter, the outgoing Chairman of the LGA, emphasised the importance of these services and the serious implications if councils did not have the resources for them.
If the Government think the policy going forward is to spend all your reserves, and then we will find some new money to give you after you have spent all your reserves, the first serious shock will be when a Secretary of State has to stand up and explain to the public why those people died because the money was not available. Why do we need to lose people because of money? We managed to find all the money the health service needed. Why have we not found it for adult social care?
The rising demands of social care (both for adults and children) are placing local government under increasing financial pressure. These services help some of the most vulnerable in society so must be properly funded. Governments have been reviewing the funding of adult social care for some years but without conclusion. Without a solution local government will continue to be forced to cut back on the other services that it provides.
Chair of the HCLG Committee, Clive Betts MP, said: “The battle to meet ever increasing demand for social care has left few further sources of revenue to divert towards it and will now need a dedicated funding solution. The haphazard approach to broader funding has equally created an opaque source of revenue, partially funded by tax systems that don’t spread the burden equally.
“The Government’s attention has been elsewhere for too long and it must now establish a system of funding that both addresses immediate need and supports local authorities in meeting challenges of the future.”
The report says rising demand for social care was placing an intolerable financial burden on local authorities, adding successive governments had failed to produce concrete measures to address the level of day to day demand or future need.
Nadra Ahmed, Executive Chairman of the National Care Association said: “Here is more evidence, if it were needed, that social care remains firmly in the ‘too difficult to handle’ tray on Ministerial desks.
“Despite fleeting references and platitudes, we have seen no tangible action or evidence that social care is any closure to tangible and sustainable solution in the minds of the PM or his team. Money is appearing from the magic well to alleviate pressures for many services but the one that sustains vulnerable citizens remains adrift.
The prospects are not going to get better if that is the hope. We need sustainable funding which is ring fenced for social care as an immediate action and consideration given for exemption from VAT for providers. Who will be bold enough to take the steps before it’s too late?”
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee report highlights the burden placed upon local authorities to meet the ever-increasing demand for socials care services, to the detriment of other community services they are expected to provide.
This report is one in a line of other reports available to the Government expounding the plight of social care services. It would be hoped that the upcoming Queens Speech will at last contain the Governments strategy on addressing the problems of social care and the increased funding that will be made available.
Albert Cook Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy