Councils will have a £4.3 billion adult social care shortfall to make up by 2020, a new report has warned. In response, the Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the government to bring forward its proposed funding – but can councils really afford to rely on state help?
A £4.3 billion social care shortfall
The report published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) states that the lack of financial support poses “a real threat” to care services, and refers to the government’s response to this situation as “complacent”.
A new ‘personal budgets’ system, designed to give patients more say in the care they receive, is being introduced by the Department of Health. However, the PAC has suggested that this may see services being “adversely affected” because of the funding cuts that go with it.
How could the government help?
The LGA’s Community Wellbeing Spokeswoman Councillor Izzi Seccombe believes that local authorities have already “been doing everything they can to work closely with individuals”, but that state funding is needed to maintain both service standards and council budgets.
“The Government should – as a starting point – bring forward the £700 million Better Care Fund money earmarked for the end of the decade to 2016/17 to help alleviate growing social care pressures,” Councillor Seccombe commented.
In 2013 the government confirmed its intention to launch the fund as, partly, a means to incentivise councils to work more according to individual patients’ needs – something Councillor Seccombe believes is already happening.
The LGA Spokeswoman also highlighted the fact that the system change is being launched from an “unstable foundation” as local authorities, since 2011, have been working hard to close a funding gap of £5 billion. During this period ethical Enforcement Agents like Dukes Bailiffs have been providing some relief to councils by eliminating council tax arrears.
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