Headlines: June 10th, 2008

Local authorities are calling for the care system to be adequately funded and simplified to meet the demands of an ageing population and so that disabled and older people get the care they deserve. The Local Government Association is also urging the government not to lose sight of immediate pressures on the system.

The call is part of the LGA’s Fair Care campaign and comes in response to consultations on the future of social care. It is warning the Government not to overlook what is happening at the moment and says that long-term solutions will not help people who need care now. The LGA also wants minister to go further with plans to create a single system for all types of care and support.

The LGA says the first survey of eligibility criteria for the new financial year shows councils providing help with basic daily tasks but increasingly only to those with the greatest need. Three quarters of authorities can provide personal care only to elderly and disabled people who have greater than ‘substantial’ needs. A joint study by the Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services shows there has been an increase in the number of people who get direct payments to manage their own care and support. It also found councils were becoming more efficient when buying in social care services. The report shows only four councils now provide care for people with the lowest level of need, eight have had to tighten eligibility criteria this year.

David Rogers, the LGA spokesman on social care, said it was obvious that the system needed of long-term reform. “There is a need to think creatively about how we will pay for the care of an ageing population and it is vital that the public are involved in the debate about reforming a service that touches so many people’s lives,” he said.