Debate in light of the Government's decision to delay the implementation of the care cost cap.
Ahead of the Spending Review, the LGA called for further flexibility in the setting of council tax. The Government's announcement of the council tax precept for social care recognises the extreme funding pressures facing adult social care. It, along with additional funding pressures for social care through the Better Care Fund (rising to £1.5 billion by 2019/20), will go some way to alleviating the pressures facing the sector.
Under the proposals, it will be councils who decide whether to exercise their discretion to use these new council tax powers. The extent to which councils benefit from the freedom will vary in accordance with their council tax base.
We welcome the announcement that the Better Care Fund (BCF) will continue as this will support further integration between health and social care, building on the efforts to date. However, the additional funding for social care through the BCF announced in the Spending Review is back-loaded; there is no additional funding in 2016/17 and we assume the amount in 2017/18 may be small. This will leave at least one year, possibly two, of continued pressures at a time when services are already struggling.
We will be seeking clarity from the Government on the source of the additional funding. This includes the relationship between the additional funding and the £800 million New Homes Bonus savings, and how adult social care will be supported in the immediate future.
Although there has been positive recognition of the pressures facing social care in the Spending Review, we are disappointed that the funding saved from the deferral of Phase 2 of the Care Act has not been fully reinstated to support the sector.