Government must make case for paying more tax to rescue social care, say council leaders

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Council leaders have called on the Government to make the case for tax rises to secure the future of adult social care services.

In response to its own social care green paper consultation published today, the Local Government Association said there would need to be increases in either income tax or National Insurance, or both.

The LGA launched the consultation on the future of adult social care and how to fund it in the summer when the Government’s own was delayed. The LGA received more than 540 submissions to the consultation from across the general public, people who use services, councils and countless other interested and significant organisations.

The NHS Confederation submitted evidence and was a member of the LGA’s adult social care sounding board which held two big discussions on key questions in the green paper discussion.

Years of significant underfunding of councils, coupled with rising demand and costs for care and support, have combined to push adult social care services to breaking point, the LGA said.

And despite piecemeal funding and councils moving to protect social care relative to other services, the LGA said the scale of the overall funding picture for local government as a whole means adult social care services still face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care.

The LGA is calling for an urgent investment to plug that gap, as well as tax rises to ensure future sustainability, plus a reversal to what it said were £600million to the public health budget between 2015 and 2020.

It also wants a focus on prevention, community and primary health services in the upcoming NHS plan.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, welcomed the report. He said: “The social care crisis is an avoidable tragedy and the LGA is right to argue that it remains fundamentally underfunded and its prospects can only worsen unless the government acts.

“An effective and functional adult social care system is vital for the health, wellbeing and independence for so many and it is essential for our NHS to survive and thrive.

“Significant cuts have left at least 1.4 million people with unmet social care needs. Without a sustainable settlement for social care the whole system will continue to struggle to cope.”

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Now is the time for answers. And every day that is spent further defining the problem and consulting on changes that only really tinker at the edges of the debate, is another day in which people’s lives are not being lived to the full.

“The Government needs to be bold in the solutions it puts forward but it is incumbent upon politicians of all colours to cooperate and be part of a wider movement for change in the national interest.”

 

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