The International Longevity Centre UK (ILC UK) and The Salvation Army have found that rural areas have less money to care for older people in a new report, Care in Places.
Adult social care is largely funded by local business rates, Council Tax and other local charges, but areas with lower house prices and fewer businesses cannot raise as much money as more urban areas says the report.
Care in Places – Inequalities in local authority adult social care spending power states that this has resulted in severe funding inequality across the country and prevents most local authorities from providing adequate social care for older residents.
The Salvation Army is asking Government to prioritise properly funding adult social care and to consider funding most of it centrally. This is the only way to ensure that money is distributed more fairly and all older people get the help they need, says the charity.
Lieutenant-Colonel Dean Pallant of The Salvation Army said, 'Rural local authorities have been set up to fail with this flawed formula and it urgently needs revision.
'People are living longer and the population is ageing, the adult social care bill is rising but the local authority funding streams aren’t enough to cover the demand, especially in areas where there are not many businesses or people to tax.
'The Government must prioritise its spending and properly fund adult social care. For years the rhetoric has been that councils can raise sufficient funds through local taxation to pay for older people's care. This Salvation Army analysis proves that local authorities are being asked to achieve the impossible. Put simply; you can’t squeeze local businesses for more tax if your local businesses are struggling.'
ILC UK states that as the Government develops policy for the future of social care, it will be vital to discuss how social care will be delivered in place. The Care in Places report showed that:
- Some areas are able to raise up to five times more revenue than other authorities.
- The idea that areas with lower populations don’t need to raise as much money is false. Their funding streams are so depleted they just cannot raise sufficient funds.
- While rural areas are the worst hit, the funding disparity does affect urban areas too, especially those that have been hit by years of economic decline.
- There isn’t just one crisis in social care, there are lots of crises, of different types and in different areas.
- Inequalities in the ability to meet the need for social care are systemic.
- Local leadership alone cannot overturn the current inequalities.
Lieutentant-Colonel Dean Pallant continued, 'In a few days we will know who our new Prime Minster is. His priority must be to set a proper timetable for the long-awaited Green Paper on adult social care as that will be an opportunity to rethink how we fund caring for older people. He must also consider how we spend the money saved by years of reducing national debt.
'The UK has worked hard to close the deficit, it’s time to invest the savings made on those most at need.'