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MPs urge Chancellor to release emergency £1.5 billion cash injection for social care

Councils warn the services are on the brink of collapse

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Saturday 04 March 2017 01:09 GMT
Chancellor Philip Hammond attends the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland
Chancellor Philip Hammond attends the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland (Reuters)

The Chancellor should provide an immediate £1.5 billion cash injection for adult social care in next week’s Budget, an influential committee of MPs has said.

The Communities and Local Government Committee said the money was needed to fill the 2019-20 black hold in councils’ funding that would see “acute” pressure on the service intensify.

The Local Government Association, which represents local councils, backed the call and warned that services were “on the brink of collapse”.

The warning comes as tax specialists at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy warned that council tax bills would see their biggest rise in decades to fund overstretched services.

Most councils will be stretching their ability to raise council tax without a local referendum to its maximum.

The Committee is also calling on the National Audit Office spending watchdog to calculate how much extra cash would be needed to close the funding gap for the rest of the Parliament.

It says there is a “an urgent need for a review, ideally cross-party, of the provision and funding of social care in the long term”.

The Chancellor is coming under increasing pressure to address the issue in his Budget next Wednesday.

Clive Betts, who chairs the CLG committee, said: “The adult social care sector provides care and support to adults of all ages with care needs to enable them to lead independent and fulfilling lives.

“Throughout our inquiry we have heard powerful evidence from all parts of the sector, including people who receive council-funded social care services, about the stress the system is under.

“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.

“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.”

Mark Atkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope, said: “Disabled people are waiting for the Chancellor to invest in our crumbling social care system. The Budget is an opportunity that should not be missed.

“The social care system is on the brink of collapse and a lack of funding is leaving hundreds of thousands of disabled people without vital care to support them to live independently.”

A Government spokesman said: “We recognise the pressures of an ageing population, which is why we are giving local authorities access to £7.6 billion of new money for adult social care.

“This Government has gone further to integrate health and social care than any other before it. We have brought budgets together for the first time through the Better Care Fund and given the NHS an extra £10 billion per year by 2020/21 to fund its own plan to build a more responsive, modern health system.

“But this is not solely about money, which is why we are working to find a long-term, sustainable solution which helps local authorities learn from each other to raise standards across the whole system.”

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