Social care funding plan 'a short term fix' warns the RCN

Health organisations have raised concerns over the government’s decision to allow local authorities in England to increase council tax by 6% over the next two years to pay for social care. 
social care funding

The RCN and health charities have raised concerns over the government’s decision to allow local authorities in England to increase council tax by 6% over the next two years to pay for social care.

social care funding
Concerns have been raised over the decision to increase council tax to pay for social care
Picture: iStock

Communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid announced yesterday that councils can add a 3% social care precept to bills in both 2017/18 and 2018/19.

This could add more than £90 to the average bill for a Band D property, but charities say it will still not plug the £2.6 billion hole they estimate will be reached by 2020.

Treating symptom not cause

However, RCN general secretary Janet Davies said social care had been in crisis 'for far too long' and said the country needed a long-term investment strategy for integrated health and social care.

'These plans are yet another short term fix for a long-term problem,' she said.

'Older patients are forced to turn to hospitals because they simply cannot get the everyday practical support they need to live as independently as possible.

'The government has once again chosen to treat the symptom, not the cause.'

Danger of increasing inequalities

Health think tank The King’s Fund assistant director for policy Richard Humphries said: ‘The emphasis on the precept risks increasing the inequalities that mean the wealthiest parts of the country can raise up to three times as much as poorer areas.

‘This once again underlines the need for fundamental reform to put social care on a sustainable footing for the future.’

Independent Care Group (ICG) chair Mike Padgham said: 'It is merely a sticking plaster, rather than a long-term cure.'

ICG figures show a quarter of care homes in the UK – approximately 5,000 – are said to be in danger of going out of business, while 3,000 already closed in the six months up to September 2015.

The number of nursing homes also fell from 4,697 to 4,633 in 2015-2016 – the first decline in five years.

Public health cuts

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in 2016 confirmed that local authorities’ funding for public health would be reduced by an average of 3.9% in real terms per annum over the five years to 2020.

This equates to a reduction in cash terms of 9.6% over the same period. 

The Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board chair Izzi Seccombe, warned the public health cut ‘could undermine’ attempts to keep pressure off adult social care and the NHS.

She said: ‘To take vital money away from the services which can be used to prevent illness and the need for treatment later down the line is extremely counterproductive.’

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘What we don't want is a reduction in smoking cessation services, alcohol and drug treatment services, sexual health services – because they quite quickly show up then as extra avoidable illness and demand in the National Health Service.’

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