Tax rises will not cover £2.6bn social care funding gap, LGA warns

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Local councils have warned that council tax rises in 2017/18, including changes to the social care precept, will not be enough to prevent further cuts in services.

Local authorities are able to raise council tax by up to 1.99% in 2017/18 to fund services without the need for a referendum with up to a further 3% for social care, but the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned this won’t be enough to cover a £2.6bn funding gap by 2020.

Lord Porter, LGA chairman, said: “Services supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities are at breaking point and many councils are increasingly unable to turn down the chance to raise desperately-needed money for social care and other local services next year.

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“But extra council tax income will not bring in anywhere near enough money to alleviate the growing pressure on social care both now and in the future and the social care precept raises different amounts of money in different parts of the country.

“Without genuinely new additional government funding for social care, vulnerable people face an ever uncertain future where they might no longer receive the dignified care and support they deserve. This is not only worse for our loved ones but will also heap further pressure and wasted expense on the NHS.”

The LGA said 147 of England’s 151 social care authorities were considering or had approved the social care precept in 2017/18, raising £543m for services but warned this will be swallowed by up to £600m to cover the cost of the National Living Wage.

In addition, 108 councils (72%) are considering or introducing a 3% social care precept council tax with 39 (25%) considering or introducing a 2% rise.

The LGA warned councils will have to divert funding from other services to pay for social and urged the government to use the final the Local Government Finance Settlement this month to provide more money.

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