The Local Government Association (LGA) has published its LGA green paper findings, saying that doing nothing is no longer an option.
It says that years of significant under-funding of councils, coupled with rising demand and costs for care and support, have combined to push adult social care services to breaking point. The organisation is now calling on Government to abandon short-term incremental 'handouts' and make the case for national tax rises, so that current and future generations can be confident they will have the care and support they need to live the life they want to lead.
LGA received more than 540 submissions from the general public, service users, councils and many other interested parties.
The final report on the LGA green paper findings forms the basis of 14 recommendations to Government. It contains a summary of responses, including an overwhelming recognition of the importance of adult social care and a consensus that the system is unsustainable in its current form.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said, '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.
'That is why the LGA took action and launched its own adult social care green paper to start the desperately-needed debate around the future of care. The responses we have had make it clear beyond doubt that there is universal agreement that the current situation is unsustainable and is failing people on a daily basis.
'People have a right to live the life they want to lead and high-quality adult social care and support plays an essential role in this. It is also vital to society. It strengthens communities, reduces pressures on the NHS, supports around 1.5 million jobs and contributes as much as £46bn to the UK economy.
'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. 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.'
Commenting on the LGA’s green paper findings, VODG Chief Executive, Dr Rhidian Hughes said, 'The evidence for significant and sustainable reform of adult social care is overwhelming and today’s report from the LGA is a welcome contribution. We need central government leaders to work together, cross-party, to give the millions of older and disabled people who rely on essential services certainty about the care and support they are entitled to receive.
'It is time now for central government to act. The often talked of, but never seen, green paper, should be brought forward without further delay.'
Independent Age has also responded; George McNamara, Director of Policy and Influencing said, 'It is a travesty that social care has been neglected by politicians for so long, forcing it to the brink of collapse. Our research on the future funding of care found that not only would increasing National Insurance or Income Tax bring in over £5.5bn, but that the public support it. This would make providing free personal care for all older people a real possibility. The Government must take the bull by the horns and give social care the money needed to end the crisis in care and ensure older people thrive, not just survive.'
Councillor David Williams, County Councils Network spokesman for health and social care, said, 'The County Councils Network’s response to the Local Government Association’s consultation on the future of adult social care outlined that counties face the most acute pressures in delivering care, stemming from having the largest and fastest growing elderly populations. County leaders have long argued for Government to be bold in reform, and today’s public polling suggests that the public are in agreement.
'We believe that a national taxation solution to social care should be considered, whether from National Insurance, general taxation, or from the recently-floated over 40s levy.
'At the same time, prevention must be at the heart of the reform agenda. If the Government is to invest in the NHS without investing in adult social care and the preventative agenda, it will simply create a false economy. If reform is to be successful, local government must be part of the solution – with a strengthened role in the social care.'