Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
"The Social Care White Paper provides a good platform for a reformed social care system and there is much for councils to work on with Government through the draft Care and Support Bill. However, without tackling the fundamental funding issue it does not go far enough. There is an immediate crisis in social care which needs to be urgently addressed now.
"We now need to see a viable way forward on how a social care system that provides much-needed certainty, stability and is fit for purpose, can be properly funded. We are concerned that, under the proposed timetable, elderly and disabled people, as well as carers, could face at least a further five years of uncertainty.
"The introduction of a cap on the maximum amount an individual would pay for their care will provide some peace of mind for our rapidly-aging population, but for such a system to work it has to be universal. We do not think that the Government's suggestion to consider voluntary opting in or out of such a scheme is workable or provides people with clarity.
"Council leaders are disappointed that the white paper does not address the reality of the current and growing funding crisis in adult social care and the subsequent huge financial pressures councils face. Small pockets of additional funding, while needed, simply paper over the cracks. Serious and real reform must include an honest appraisal of what a modern social care system costs and how it is to be funded.
"Local government is clear and united about the way forward for the social care system, and our message to all parts of government is that we are ready to play our part. We want Government to demonstrate strong leadership and work with us, public service leaders, charities, care providers and community groups to implement and fund the fundamental reforms needed to ensure we have the social care system this country desperately needs."
Notes to editors
Local authorities are already facing an estimated £1 billion reduction in social care budgets and this year will have to find an additional £890 million. The vast majority of this – £688 million – will be made through squeezing every pound and redesigning services, but some will have to come from increased charges.
The cost of adult social care already takes up more than 40 per cent of council budgets, to provide services for around 2 per cent of the population. Spending on social care will pass 45 per cent of council budgets by 2019/20.
Unless reform of adult social care is introduced immediately, the money available by 2020 to fund council services like road maintenance, libraries and leisure centres will have shrunk by 90 per cent in cash terms.
Improved efficiency will not be enough to cover the huge funding gap. In 2010/11 the cost of providing central services, which includes building costs, administration and IT, was around £3 billion. The cuts required to council services excluding care and waste management are more than five times that figure.
A full copy of the report 'Funding outlook for councils, from 2010/11 to 2019/20' can be found on our website:
13 July 2012