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Counties warn over social care fair funding formula

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The County Councils Network (CCN) has objected to proposed formula for adult social care in the government’s fair funding review.

It welcomed the review’s general “positive direction, built on the twin principles of evidence and fairness” but called on ministers to revisit proposal for adult social care, which took up almost half of county budgets leaving these vulnerable to adverse changes.

The proposed formula “could fail to meet today’s real demands for services, including ‘unmet need’ for services and true cost of service delivery, particularly in working age adults”, the CNN warned.

Its chair Paul Carter (Con) said: “The uncertainty over the final adult social care formula is causing many in the shire counties concern.

“Initial proposals could fail to recognise the demand in counties from their significantly greater proportion of elderly and frail, alongside the enormous variability in demand for adult learning disabilities support.

“With adult social care the biggest cost-driver across local government, it is imperative that ministers arrive at a formula that reflects the evidence and we are asking them to look again at this.”

A separate submission by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (Solace) said its members had “very strong concerns” about focusing the formula on distribution of money between councils “before the more fundamental question of sufficiency has been addressed”.

Solace pointed to the Local Government Association’s estimate of an £8bn funding gap by 2024-25 and said “changing the distribution of funding within a pot that already does not meet aggregate spending pressures simply means that some councils may be in a marginally less challenging position in the short-term while others are pushed closer to breaking point sooner than projected.

Solace also objected to the review’s assumptions about council tax and business rates income.

“Basing the future funding of local services so heavily on regressive and outdated tax mechanisms as council tax – properties have not been revalued since 1991 – and business rates poses greater, rather than fewer, risks to sustainability,” it warned.

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