Adding a penny on the basic rate of income tax, or charging the over 40’s £33.40 a year an earmarked contribution are just some of the solutions recommended in a report out today which will kick-start a desperately-needed debate on how to pay for adult social care and rescue the services caring for older and disabled people from collapse.
Years of significant underfunding of councils, coupled with rising demand and costs for care and support, have combined to push adult social care services to breaking point says the Local Government Association who have produced their own green paper as they say s adult social care reaches breaking point
Since 2010 councils have had to bridge a £6 billion funding shortfall just to keep the adult social care system going. In addition the LGA estimates that adult social care services face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care, while latest figures show that councils in England receive 1.8 million new requests for adult social care a year – the equivalent of nearly 5,000 a day.
Decades of failures to find a sustainable solution to how to pay for adult social care for the long-term, and the Government’s recent decision to delay its long-awaited green paper on the issue until the autumn, has prompted council leaders to take action.
Short-term cash injections have not prevented care providers reluctantly closing their operations or returning contracts to councils and less choice and availability to a rising number of people with care needs. This is increasing the strain on an already-overstretched workforce and unpaid carers, and leading to more people not having their care needs met.
Increased spend on adult social care – which now accounts for nearly 40 per cent of total council budgets – is threatening the future of other vital council services, such as parks, leisure centres and libraries, which help to keep people well and from needing care and support and hospital treatment.
The report recommends four methods of funding,increasing income tax for taxpayers of all ages – a 1p rise on the basic rate could raise £4.4 billion in 2024/25 or increasing national insurance – a 1p rise could raise £10.4 billion in 2024/25
A Social Care Premium, charging the over-40s and working pensioners an earmarked contribution (such as an addition to National Insurance or another mechanism). If it was assumed everyone over 40 was able to pay the same amount (not the case under National Insurance), raising £1 billion would mean a cost of £33.40 for each person aged 40+ in 2024/25.
The means testing of universal benefits, such as winter fuel allowance and free TV licences, could raise £1.9 billion in 2024/25 and allowing councils to increase council tax – a 1 per cent rise would generate £285 million in 2024/25.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“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 £46 billion to the UK economy.
“But work to find a long-term funding solution for adult social care and support has been kicked into the long grass by successive governments for the past two decades and has brought these services to breaking point.
“It has created a deeply uncertain and worrying future outlook for people who use adult social care services now and the growing number of people who will need them in the future.
“We cannot duck this issue as a society any longer. Our green paper is the start of a nationwide public debate about the future of care for all adults, and how best to support their wellbeing, and we encourage as many people and organisations to have their say on how we pay for it and the responsibilities of citizens, families and communities.
“Adult social care and support matters. We must fund it for the long-term so that people of all ages can be supported to live the life they want to live. Building a better society means ensuring that everyone receives the care they need to lead a good life: well, independent and at home for as long as possible. This process must start now.”