NHS winter crisis should prompt government to fully fund social care, warn councils

This year’s winter health crisis should incentivise government to fully fund our social care system, council leaders urged today.


The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, said there cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable social care system. Urgent new funding to address the annual social care funding gap, which will reach £2.3 billion by 2020, is needed to avoid an all-year round NHS crisis, it is warning today.

Council leaders say urgent action is needed to plug this social care funding gap to help alleviate the pressure on hospitals and avoid people being admitted to hospital in the first place. This will free up hospital beds and reduce pressures on the NHS.

Councils have also been working hard ahead of the winter to help reduce delayed transfers of care from hospital.

With the social care green paper not due until summer this year, the LGA is urging the Government to use the final Local Government Finance Settlement to find genuinely new money for social care. This will improve collaborative efforts to help prevent further crises in the NHS.

LGA Chairman Lord Porter said:

“Councils have long warned about the impact of an underfunded social care system on the NHS.

“No-one wants their loved ones stuck in hospital when they don’t need to be there or see operations and procedures cancelled.

“Councils want to help and are working hard to get people out of hospital and back into the community, close to their loved ones, this winter.

“Extra funding for social care can empower councils to prioritise prevention work which is key to reducing the pressures on the health service and keeping people out of hospital in the first place. This will help alleviate the chances of winter crises happening in the future.

“The announcement of a green paper next summer shows government recognises the need for long-term reform of social care, but immediate extra funding is needed now to address the immediate pressures older people and people with disabilities are facing.

“Working together with the NHS and other sector partners, we need to do all we can to help people with adult social care.

“The final Local Government Finance Settlement due in the next month is an opportunity to provide genuinely new money to address the £2.3 billion social care funding gap to make sure people get the care and support they need in the right place and at the right time.

“Immediate extra funding will help avoid a situation where people spend longer in hospital, rather than in their own home and communities – or having their operations cancelled more regularly - as NHS pressures increase and councils are left increasingly powerless to help.”


  1. Councils have reduced the number of delayed days since July, when their targets were set by government, by 12 per cent.