The Public Accounts Committee has raised concerns about whether the 2014 Care Act is adequately serving Britain’s ageing population.
The committee believes carers and the people they care for may not get the services they need because of continuing reductions to local authority budgets and demand for care being so uncertain.
It is concerned the New Burdens Doctrine – the Government’s commitment to assess and fund extra costs for local authorities from introducing new powers, duties and other government-initiated changes – does not guarantee funding for significant new costs.
Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, said:”The Care Act should mean carers get proper support from local councils, but with budgets squeezed this support will be hard for councils to deliver.
“Local government is taking on more and more responsibilities from central government, but the money does not always follow. The concept of ‘new burdens’ is simple enough yet the Government’s definition of these burdens fails to reflect reality.
“If new costs to councils are not adequately funded then services will suffer. There is also a real danger of cost-shunting – in this instance, costs of providing care falling on other public services, carers or the people being cared for.
“This is an issue of concern to the Committee across public services and we will continue to monitor how the Government funds local government.”
Care England, the largest representative body for independent social care providers, says that the funding of care has reached crisis point.
“The objectives of the Care Act are being seriously undermined by the fact that the government has not delivered enough money to be able to provide a stable and diverse care market, and what money they have delivered has been backloaded. It is simply not enough to meet either current or future needs. The care system is in crisis and the impacts will be felt by citizens, the NHS and the wider economy,” said Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England.
“There is a real and immediate crisis in social care with many organisations facing an uncertain future,” he added.