Government must raise taxes to plug £3.6bn social care funding shortfall, councils say

Successive governments have kicked care funding ‘into long grass’ but system is at breaking point after eight years of authority, LGA says

Alex Matthews-King
Health Correspondent
Wednesday 14 November 2018 01:42
Comments
Rising elderly population increasing demands for social care as budgets cut
Rising elderly population increasing demands for social care as budgets cut

Tax rises are urgently needed to plug a yawning hole in funding the care of the elderly and adults with disabilities and must be put forward by government in its delayed social care green paper, councils have said.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has drawn up its own blueprint for reforming the sector and says that income tax or national insurance increases should be urgently considered.

Successive governments have kicked the issue of funding the rising cost of care in the UK “into the long grass”, but after eight years of austerity and cuts to council budgets, the LGA says the issues is at crisis point.

Councils, which are overwhelmingly Tory-controlled, predict an additional £3.6bn will be needed by 2025 just to maintain care at existing levels and warn the workforces is already overstretched and major providers are on the verge of collapse.

“Work to find a long-term funding solution for adult social care has been kicked into the long grass by successive governments for the past two decades and has brought these vital services to breaking point,” Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said.

“The government must use its upcoming green paper to make a serious case for national tax rises, including either increases to income tax and/or national insurance to provide long-term sustainability for the vital social care services that are central to helping people to live fulfilling, independent lives.

“Now is the time for answers.”

An LGA-commissioned poll found national insurance increases were the most popular method to raise funds for better care, with 56 per cent supporting the idea and just 18 per cent opposing.

The results, along with submissions from 540 organisations and individuals collected in its social care consultation, are being released at the start of the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester on Wednesday.

Other priorities in the consultation include reversing £600m in cuts to ill-health prevention services, such as smoking cessation and sexual health clinics, and investing in community and primary healthcare.

While the LGA did not put a figure on how much taxes would need to rise, the government at the weekend said it was considering adopting a German-style social insurance system – which taxes 2.5 per cent of the earnings of over-40s.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK and co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance (CSA), said there was now a “chorus of calls” from care users and the public for a state-backed funding system for care.

“It’s time for the government to stop putting its fingers in its ears and listen,” she added.

Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s shadow cabinet minister for social care, said: “This is another emphatic reminder of the catastrophic damage dealt by Tory cuts to the budgets of councils who deliver social care and of ministers’ inaction in dealing with the escalating care crisis.

“Repeated hammer blows to council budgets have seen £7bn lost from social care funding since 2010, pushing home care providers to the brink.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are determined to make social care sustainable for the future. We have set out our principles for social care reform and will publish our proposals in a green paper later this year.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in