Warrington residents’ views needed as adult social care costs reach breaking point
The Council is urging local residents and community groups to have their say on how support for older people, younger adults with mental or physical disabilities, and their carers, should be funded.
A major national consultation has been launched by the Local Government Association (LGA), which has released its own ‘Green Paper’ in advance of official government proposals. The LGA estimates that adult social care services in England and Wales face an annual funding gap of £3.5billion by 2025. According to the LGA more and more people are unable to receive good, reliable care, such as help with getting washed and dressed, and funding is being increasingly diverted from other vital council services such as parks, leisure centres and libraries, to plug growing adult social care funding gaps.
Councillor Pat Wright, executive board member for adult social care says:
“Whoever you are, whatever your age, this is your chance to have your say on an issue that affects all of us, directly or indirectly, now or in the future.
“Those involved in providing adult social care in Warrington – council staff and other public, private and third sector organisations, and a legion of unpaid carers – are doing an outstanding job, but the system is past the tipping point.
“A number of councils are effectively ‘going bust’, unable to provide even basic services. Fortunately this is not the case in Warrington, but spend on adult social care now accounts for 44% of the council’s entire budget and two thirds of our council tax income.
“The LGA’s intervention is very welcome. This government and the previous coalition have presided over a situation where no strategic approach has been taken to providing for the most vulnerable people in our society.
“This summer the government stalled again with its own ‘Green Paper’. Instead, plans originally intended to come in with the Care Act in 2015 were abandoned and decisions have repeatedly been made, under pressure, to raise additional funds locally through a precept on the council tax.
“In Warrington and throughout the country this has hit many people who are less able to afford it. But rising care and support costs, and increasing demand on services due to more people living longer, often with long term health conditions, means that what we raise through council tax doesn’t come close to fixing the problem.”
The LGA’s eight-week consultation is open to all members of the public, regardless of whether they are directly affected by or receive adult social care and support, and community groups too. The findings will be used to help influence the government’s own green paper and its spending plans. Possible solutions to paying for adult social care outlined in the consultation include:
- increasing income tax for taxpayers of all ages – a 1p rise on the basic rate could raise £4.4billion in 2024/25;
- increasing national insurance – a 1p rise could raise £10.4billion in 2024/25;
- a Social Care Premium – this would be a contribution, such as an addition to National Insurance or another mechanism, paid by employers and people over 40, including over 65s. If it was assumed everyone over 40 was able to pay the same amount (not the case under National Insurance), raising £1billion would mean a cost of £33.40 for each person aged 40+ in 2024/25 (this is a purely illustrative figure and would not be the cost to individuals if the premium was attached to National Insurance given that a person’s employment status and/or how much they earn determines the amount they contribute to National Insurance);
- means testing universal benefits, such as winter fuel allowance and free TV licences, could raise £1.9billion in 2024/25; and
- allowing councils to increase council tax – a 1 per cent rise would generate £285million in 2024/25.
The LGA’s green paper consultation is available online at futureofadultsocialcare.co.uk
The consultation closes on 26 September.