Headlines: December 15th, 2016

The government has announced an extra £3.5b funding for social care in England up to 2020. The announcement has met with responses ranging from derision to anger.

Much of the extra funding will come from council tax rises, but there is ambiguity about how the total increase will be found.

Ministers will let local authorities bring forward council tax rises, and money cut from a housing scheme will be spent on social care instead.

The most significant issues is that the amount of extra funding roughly equals the cuts made since 2010. No provision has been made for the ageing population which is making increasing demands on social care services.

The Local Government Information Unit, a local government thinktank, has dismissed today’s announcement as a “sticking plaster” which does not address the severity of the adult social care funding crisis. In a statement the LGiU’s chief executive Jonathan Carr-West said: “Today’s statement contained some short term measures that will be welcome to local government. This settlement illustrates exactly what is wrong with our over centralised political system as the secretary of state shuffled funding from one silo to another. Council tax rises cannot be the answer to the crisis in adult social care funding as many of the councils with the most pressing care needs have the lowest council tax base.

In the end, this problem cannot be addressed while we continue to treat health and social care as separate systems and to protect the NHS at the expense of social care. After a decade of public debate all we have is a sticking plaster of increased council tax and no long term solution for the greatest public policy question of our age.

Governments continue to protect the NHS without vital reform whilst demanding more and more from councils to reduce the national deficit. Using local authorities as the whipping boy of the Treasury will only go so far. Radical reform is long overdue and the Treasury should have the NHS in its sights in order to answer this crucial question.”

The Local Government Association said the measures “fall well short”. LGA chairman Lord Porter said an “urgent injection of genuinely new additional government funding” was needed.

Council leaders, charities and an independent regulator have all said there is not enough money going towards care for elderly and disabled people.