Social care services still at risk despite Spending Review boost, sector warns

Plans to grant councils power to raise money for social care could lead to big regional variations, warn care sector leaders

By Aggie Chambre

09 Dec 2015

Vital social care services remain at risk despite recent government attempts to protect the sector, care sector bosses say.

Last month, George Osborne announced proposals he claimed would lead to an above-inflation rise in care budgets by allowing local authorities to raise council tax by 2%.

He also increased the money available for the Better Care Fund, which is money used by councils and the NHS to support the care sector.

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But care sector chiefs have written to the chancellor to express doubt about his assertions.

The letter warns that Osborne’s plans will leave a funding gap and put vulnerable people at risk, although the claim is denied by the government.

It highlights the wide variation in council’s revenues with local authorities in more deprived areas worse off. And the letter points out that the extra £1.5bn of Better Care Fund money will not kick in until 2019.

The correspondence is signed by Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Care Provider Alliance, which represents agencies providing care, and the NHS Confederation.

President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Ray James, said councils would struggle to keep their care sector spending at its current level, let alone increase it.

“Councils have tried to prioritise funding for social care ahead of other services. But its ability to do that seems to have come to an end, so I think we will struggle to put much more into social care," he said.

"If that happens, services will be put at risk. We have an ageing population which is increasing demand and have to cope with the introduction of National Living Wage.

"Without action, we will see care homes close and vulnerable people not getting care."

But a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said the package should "ensure councils can support older and vulnerable people in their area".

Read the most recent articles written by Aggie Chambre - Spending Review: DWP among seven departments to settle with the Treasury

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