County councils have voiced concerns over the government’s latest fair funding proposals for adult social care, warning that it could fail to recognise demand for services in shire counties.
The Fair Funding Review will affect how £19bn of funding will be allocated and redistributed between local authorities from 2020 onwards.
Responding to the latest consultation, the County Councils Network (CCN) said that overall, it believes the review is heading in a positive direction, built on the twin principles of evidence and fairness.
But the network has called on ministers to “look again” at the proposed adult social care formula and work with shire counties, which are home to the largest and growing elderly populations.
The network’s response suggested that the cost-drivers in this service-specific formula would potentially maintain existing patterns of funding.
CCN outlines that the proposed formula’s use of the ‘utilisation’ assumption as a proxy for need could fail to meet today’s real demands for services, including ‘unmet need’ for services and true cost of service delivery, particularly in working age adults.
Cllr Paul Carter, chairman of the County Councils Network, said: “We are entering the final stages of a review that could provide a golden opportunity to reset the dial and create a funding system that can truly stand the test of time; eradicating the unfair nature of the present methodology.
“However, if we are to see this review through – and if we are to grasp this opportunity – compromise and pragmatism on all sides of the local government sector, will be necessary.
“At the same time, the uncertainty over the final adult social care formula is causing many in the shire counties concern.
“Initial proposals could fail to recognise the demand in counties from their significantly greater proportion of elderly and frail, alongside the enormous variability in demand for adult learning disabilities support. With adult social care the biggest cost-driver across local government, it is imperative that ministers arrive at a formula that reflects the evidence and we are asking them to look again at this.”