After crunching the numbers from yesterday’s Spending Review, Care England has concluded that the package announced by the Chancellor added up to a “missed opportunity for social care”.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of the Care England industry association, suggested that the funding crisis would not be resolved by the measures, which free councils to increase council tax by up to 2% above the current cap of 1.99% as long as the full amount of the increase is spent on social care.
The Treasury says that if all local authorities use this freedom to its maximum effect, it could help raise nearly £2 billion a year by 2019.
In addition, from 2017, the Spending Review makes available social care funds for local government, rising to £1.5 billion by 2019-20, to be included in an improved Better Care Fund.
Professor Green said that the reform to council tax would not necessarily be taken up by all councils. Even if they did, the money would still not be enough.
“There is a real and immediate crisis in social care with many organisations facing an uncertain future. The extra money that was announced today in the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review will not deliver enough money, and it will certainly not be in time to avert a crisis in some care services.
“There is no guarantee that every local authority will increase the council tax by 2% and even if this does happen, it will not provide a consistent approach to funding care.”
He also questioned the effectiveness of the Better Care Fund. “The Chancellor has increased funding to the Better Care Fund, but there is little evidence from the way in which the Better Care Fund has been operating to date that this money has gone to the front line. Care England would like a review of the Better Care Fund to ensure that in future the £1.5 billion that the Chancellor has announced goes directly into front-line care.”