Social care precept not covering councils’ costs

March 7, 2019

The social care precept will not raise enough money this year to prevent the need to make further cutbacks to care, the Local Government Association (LGA) has announced this week.

Councils can raise council tax by up to 2.99% in 2019/20 to fund local services without the need for a referendum. Some authorities responsible for social care remain able to levy an extra social care precept of up to 2% (up to 4.99% in total with the general flexibility) this year. Income from this precept must be spent on adult social care services.

With town halls across the country setting their final budgets and council tax levels, extensive annual research by the LGA has revealed that:

  • 67 social care councils (44%) are unable to levy any more social care precept in 2019/20.
  • 83 social care authorities are considering or have approved an adult social care precept in 2019/20, with 38 using the full 2% precept available to them this year.
  • The adult social care precept rises will raise an extra £197m to pay for adult social care services this year. This is not even equivalent to the estimated £290m that councils will need to pay for the increase in the National Living Wage this year, says LGA.

The LGA states that even if all councils were to use their full council tax flexibilities, adult social care services would still face a funding gap of at least £1bn in 2019/20, just to maintain existing standards of care. This will rise to £3.6bn by 2025.

The LGA is calling for Government to use the Spending Review to tackle the immediate adult social care funding gap and publish a comprehensive Green Paper on social care to find a truly long-term, sustainable funding solution to this adult social care crisis.

Counsellor Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said, 'Adult social care provides vital support to millions of people every day but is at breaking point.

'Extra council tax income for adult social care has been helpful in recent years. For many that option has run out this year and the extra money the rest will raise will do little to prevent those who rely on services seeing the quality and quantity reduce.

'Raising council tax has never been the answer to fixing our chronically underfunded social care system. It has raised different amounts of money in different parts of the country, unrelated to need, and risked adding an extra financial burden on households.

'Investing in social care is the best way to keep people out of hospital and living independent, dignified lives at home and in the community. This is not only good for our loved ones but is proven to alleviate pressure on the NHS.

'Plugging the immediate funding gap facing adult social care and finding a genuine long-term funding solution must therefore be an urgent priority for the Government.'

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