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Charity tells Rishi Sunak to fix social care funding before services 'wither and die'

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It would raise £3.3billion with the average Band D household paying up to £180 more a year. But this would be “extremely unfair” as it would leave people in need of care in some areas “seriously disadvantaged”, warned the charity’s report.

It is calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak for an urgent central government cash injection instead. His decisions in this month’s spending review will determine whether social care services “wither and die”, stand still or get stronger.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director and co-chairwoman of the Care and Support Alliance, said: “Social care’s problems are national, as the Prime Minister recognised with his promise to ‘fix them once and for all’.

“It’s not fair for ministers to try to shift the responsibility on to local areas to stump up the cash.

“Our new analysis shows even if you make local people pay a whopping additional 10 per cent in council tax – on top of the 19 per cent average rise we’ve seen in recent years – it still won’t give social care all the money it needs.

“Meanwhile this intensifies the postcode lottery which means older people have much more chance of getting a decent care service in some places, compared to others. Social care provision is too important to too many people for its fate to depend on local politics and local tax bases.”A rise in council tax in England has been mooted as a way to boost social care funding.

However analysis suggests the amount this would generate would be unequal across the country. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that council tax increases in the richest 10 councils could generate 45 per cent more per person than in the poorest 10 councils.

Age UK is calling for Mr Sunak to give the sector the money it needs from a central pot, rather than through councils raising their taxes individually.

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Constant council tax rises are hitting residents hard, yet many people wonder exactly what they are getting for their money.”

The Health and Social Care Select Committee said the sector needs £3.9billion of extra annual funding by 2023-24 “as a starting point” to meet demographic changes and wage rises.

Councillor David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “Council tax increases have always been a sticking plaster solution and should not be relied upon further.”

Money from a national insurance rise will mainly go to the NHS over the next three years, with Age UK saying this will leave social care “desperately short of funds”.

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Council tax rises are the sticking plaster for funding adult social care, says COUNCILLOR DAVID FOTHERGILL

Council tax rises, including the social care precept, have always been a sticking plaster for funding adult social care.

What it urgently needs is a sustainable long-term solution that provides the certainty councils need to be able to plan.

It’s alarming that the Government appears to be relying on this, alongside the need for “long-term efficiencies” to meet the core costs still facing our care system, which have been exacerbated by Covid-19.

Council tax raises different amounts in different parts of the country, and has little relationship to need.

Social care has already had to meet a £6.1billion funding gap over the past decade through savings and reductions to adult care and support, plus diverting money from other council services.

Increasing council tax to pay for social care may feel like a double whammy for hardpressed residents, who will be paying twice for a service now that the Government’s new Health and Social Care Levy is being introduced.

Of the estimated £36billion the new levy will raise UK-wide over three years, only £5.4billion is to be ring-fenced for social care in England. Unlike for the NHS, none of this money is allocated to help tackle the pressures facing social care now.

The introduction of the care costs cap and increased financial means tests thresholds will absorb a substantial part of the £5.4billion and the costs of this financial reform will continue to rise.

This could leave little or nothing to pay for other desperately needed social care reforms such as investing in prevention, addressing care worker pay, recruitment and retention, quality, access, innovation and new models of care, and meeting unmet and under-met need.

The upcoming Spending Review and the planned white paper on adult social care must tackle these issues head on.



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