Council tax boost won’t meet social care costs, Adass warns

13 Jul 16

The introduction of a council tax precept to boost social care funding will fail to cover the extra costs faced by the sector from the National Living Wage according to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.

An analysis by the group found that the 2% levy, which is being introduced following last year’s Spending Review and is set to raise £382m this year, would not address the sector’s funding crisis.

The poll of all 151 adult social services directors in England found that the National Living Wage will likely cost authorities £600m this year.

Adass president Harold Bodmer said councils are working hard to protect adult social services budgets, with adult social care accounting for 35% of council spending for the third year running.

“However, with more people needing support and having increasingly complex needs, the impact of the welcome National Living Wage, and other cost pressures, fewer people are getting help, and councils are having to make reductions which will impact on people who receive care,” he added.

“More money needs to be invested in prevention to reduce future demand, but with funding under such pressure and diverted to those with greatest and immediate need – those that we have a statutory duty towards – the opportunity to do that is being taken away.

The overall budget for adult social services has risen slightly from last year due to the precept, from £13.65bn to £13.82bn, according to the Adass survey, but 70 of 151 councils are reporting a fall in budgets. An estimated 62 councils needed to draw on reserves last year to fund budget shortfalls, while 52 had to cut services to balance budgets. The precept also raises the least amount of money in the areas of greatest need, intensifying budget pressures, according to the report.

The survey was carried out before the UK voted to leave the European Union, which Bodmer said led to many questions.

“Adass will be closely monitoring the potential impact of the referendum result on the economy and funding of adult social services, and we’ve extended our support to the 80,000 EU staff who are providing care to people right across the country, every day,” he added.

“While these may be uncertain times, the most important thing to remember is that people’s needs for care won’t stop. We still have a responsibility to make sure people are getting the support they need to live independent, valuable lives, and to plan ahead as best we possibly can.”

Commenting on Adass’s findings, Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said: “The variations between local authority areas in terms of budget, coupled with the fact that the social care precept will not raise sufficient income in the areas of most need, makes finding a solution to the funding of social care even more important.

“There is an extricable link between social care and healthcare: when you cut social care provision, the NHS bleeds.  This is not about ‘health versus social care’ – what is important is that we all pull in the same direction, and invest in services for today and for the future. Transforming services is the only way we can stand a chance of sustaining the levels of health and care that the public is entitled to expect.”

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