The Local Government Association has called on the Government to immediately redirect a significantly greater share of the new Health and Social Care Levy to frontline adult social care.
In its response to the People at the heart of care: adult social care reform white paper the LGA explained: “Through our work on our own green paper for social care and wellbeing in 2018, we called on government to make the case for increases in national taxation to raise additional funding for adult social care. Through the new Health and Social Care Levy, Government has done this, but the clear majority of the funding raised in the first three years has been allocated to the NHS.”
The LGA described the recognition in the white paper of existing good practice as welcome as was the importance of taking forward reforms from the foundation of the Care Act, which it said remained a well-supported piece of legislation. “The focuses on the workforce, prevention, unpaid carers, innovation and the links between care and housing are also helpful.”
Other headline responses were:
- The LGA fully supported and endorsed the positive framing of social care, “which mirrors much of the language we have used in recent years to describe the importance and value of care and support”.
- The Government’s ambition for social care, as defined through the various statements about what people can expect from social care and what the sector will do to achieve this, was “helpful”.
- Councils would be unable to play their part in delivering the Government’s ambitions if the central issue of funding was not tackled. The response sets out the main issues that the LGA said needed to be addressed: the fair price of care (including the cost of self-funders accessing care at the council-commissioned rate); adult social care pay – with parity with comparable roles in the NHS; the provision of care for all older people that need it; and the provision of care for all people of working age who need it.
- The LGA estimated that the Spending Review measures would enable core pressures to be met this year but would be insufficient to cover the pressures in full in 2023/24 and 2024/25.
- Councils were not convinced that the £5.4 billion allocated for social care through the Health and Social Care Levy was sufficient to fund the charging reforms set out in the September 2021 Plan.
- The LGA was also concerned by recent reports that £5 billion of the revenue raised by the Levy may need to be used to fund a permanent Covid booster vaccine programme. “While we of course recognise and support the need for vaccination funding (including ongoing funding as necessary), this must not come at the expense of adult social care reforms and we seek assurances from Government on this point.”
- It questioned whether the funding set out in the white paper for its associated reforms adequately matched the Government’s stated level of ambition. “For example, throughout the white paper there is helpful recognition of the crucial role played by unpaid carers and a clear commitment to empower them and provide them with better support. However, the only dedicated funding aligned to this priority is £25 million to kickstart a change in the services provided to support unpaid carers. This is not a significant investment, particularly when set against the estimated value of care provided by unpaid carers since the start of the pandemic (£111 billion).”
The LGA’s response, which was published on 21 December, can be viewed here.