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Sunday, 01 July 2018

Nearly all Council leaders believe tax rises required to solve social care crisis

Written by Sam Lister

Nearly all of England's council leaders believe there is a major funding crisis in social care and want national taxes ploughed into sorting it out, according to a study.

More than half of town hall bosses wanted hikes to income tax to be part of the solution and were opposed to increasing council tax further, research by the Local Government Association (LGA) found.

It warned that the strains on care services cannot be ignored any longer and called for all funding options to be on the table.

A separate study carried out for the organisation found that 87% of the public want the Government to allocate more cash to councils to ease pressures in the sector.

Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "Our surveys show beyond doubt that the overwhelming majority of both our national politicians, and the people they represent, will settle for nothing less than additional funding from Government to help solve the social care funding crisis.

"Public polling consistently demonstrates that the British public is proud of the NHS and wants to see funding for it increase, even if that means paying more tax. We are now seeing similar consensus on the need for more funding for adult social care."

The survey of council leaders and social care cabinet members found 96% believe there is a major funding problem in social care and 89% said national taxation must be part of the solution to securing financial stability in the sector.

Some 70% believe income tax increases are needed to meet the demands.

The LGA, which is holding its annual conference in Birmingham next week, called for the politics of social care funding to be set aside while a solution is found.

Ms Seccombe (pictured) said: "Properly funding social care and prevention services not only helps councils with overly-stretched budgets protect care services for the benefit of those requiring them, it also helps to prevent further crises in the NHS and saves the health service a fortune by keeping people safe and well in their own homes, reducing the number of hospital admissions.

"We need an amnesty on the politics of care funding reform. All options should be on the table to solve the funding crisis in adult social care and enable councils to meet growing demand with high quality and safe services that help people live their lives.

"The longer we wait for long-term reforms, the more likely we will see an unresolvable year-round problem in A&E."

The LGA research is based on responses from 84 leaders and/or heads of the relevant departments in 79 councils with adult social care responsibilities.

James Taylor, head of policy at disability charity Scope, said: "For too long we have had sticking plaster solutions to underfunding social care and this approach has to stop.

"Scope supports a sustainable funding solution which doesn't disadvantage disabled people. The money to fund adult social care in the long term has got to come from somewhere, and the buck stops with the Government.

"But reforms to care and support need to go beyond simply plugging the funding gap. Social care must be modernised so that it works for everyone who needs it."

A Government spokesman said: "We recognise the social care system is under pressure and we're committed to reforming it to ensure it is sustainable for the future.

"Health and social care are two sides of the same coin and any reforms must be aligned - that's why our forthcoming Green Paper will be published in the autumn with the NHS plan."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Youtube.