MPs urge chancellor to fill social care funding hole

6 Mar 17

MPs are urging the government to commit to closing the social care funding gap over the course of the Parliament.

In a pre-Budget report as part of its adult social care inquiry, the communities and local government committee said the chancellor should bring forward £1.5bn of funding from the Better Care Fund to plug the hole in the 2017-18 financial year.

In addition, it is asking the National Audit Office to build on its earlier work to determine the level of extra funding needed for the two subsequent financial years.

Committee chair Clive Betts said the social care sector was under stress.

“The government should bring forward £1.5bn from the improved Better Care Fund to help social care services meet the immediate pressures over the next year and then commit to closing the funding gap up to 2020,” he said.

“While short-term action is vital, there are funding, structural, and other problems facing the social care sector in the medium- and long-term which we shall be addressing in our final report published next month.”

The committee’s report welcomed the fact that the government had opened up new sources of funding, such as the social care precept and the improved and expanded Better Care Fund.

CIPFA’s annual council tax survey, also published today, revealed that 70% of councils in England are planning to levy the maximum 3% social care precept.

Commenting on the committee’s report, Richard Humphries senior policy fellow at the King’s Fund said it added to the “overwhelming evidence that the social care system is on its knee.”

He added: “We estimate that the sector faces a funding gap of around £2bn next year, so it is essential the chancellor addresses this in next week’s Budget.”

But he added that, without long-term reform, providing extra funding was like “pouring water into a leaking bucket”.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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