Monday, 12 December 2016

Is Council Tax The Answer to Social Care Funding Gap?

Since the Autumn statement, which saw no mention of social care funding, the whispers that the government is considering using council tax increases to try and close the funding gap have been growing louder.

Press coverage over the weekend strongly supports the suggestion that the prime minister is considering plans to allow councils in England to increase council tax to fund the social care system. But would this be enough?

Local councils have suffered more than a 40% reduction in government grants since 2010 and councils are reporting that even if the maximum increase in council tax was imposed social care would still face a funding gap of at least £2.6bn by 2020.

Talking to Radio 4’s Today programme Chief Executive of Care England, Martin Green reported that care system is in crisis and that funding problems in the industry are "reaching a crisis point".

"Research shows that about 40% of care services will no longer be viable in the medium term, so this is a huge number of care services that will be lost, some companies will definitely go bankrupt."

He also raised concern that funds raised via council tax previously, have not always reached the front line.

Conservative councillor Izzi Seccombe, who is also the chairman of the Local Government Association's community well-being board, told BBC 4’s Today programme that increasing funding through council tax "would not plug" any funding gap.

She said the £383m raised from a previous 2% increase was eclipsed by larger costs, such as the £600m cost of the national living wage increase.

Izzi believes that a cash injection of £1.3bn is needed to cover the shortfall and reported concerns over the creation of a postcode lottery, with some councils able to raise more money through council tax than others.

Talking the The Times Andrea Sutcliffe, the chief inspector for adult social care said "We've got increased demand and potentially a restriction on capacity.

"Unless we really get to grips with some of these problems... we will get to an absolute crisis."

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