Reform of adult social care is one of the biggest challenges this country faces - and none of us can go on ducking the issue any longer.
That is why I have just written to the three main party leaders setting out the key issues that must be addressed in the government’s imminent white paper on care and support.
On behalf of all the political groups in the LGA, I am calling on government to work with councils to truly undertake radical reform by adopting the capped-cost proposals set out by Andrew Dilnot’s Commission on Funding of Care and Support.
This will provide a solution which includes fair funding and gives individuals peace of mind. But considerable work will have to be done with us to find ways to make this manageable. Dilnot is only part of the solution, we also need to see a system that is simpler and ensures better quality of care through integrated health and social care commissioning with a single commissioner.
Alongside reform we must also address the shortfall in funding. The cost of social care already takes up more than 40% of council budgets. Yet councils, which are already facing an estimated £1bn reduction in social care budgets, will see almost £2bn added to the annual cost of adult social care in 2015 due to demographic pressures alone.
The prime minister recently acknowledged that social care is “one of the biggest things we’ve got to get right in our public services”. With support from the very top of government and all political parties we cannot afford any further delays. It’s time for all parts of government to come together to ensure reform, with appropriate funding, is done right.
I know that reforming adult social care is the number one priority for many councils and the LGA will continue to work on behalf of our members and press for real, practical change.
Only this will allow us to deliver the services our older and disabled residents deserve, while easing a lot of other significant pressures across local authority budgets.
Now is the time to act, and act decisively.
Sir Merrick Cockell (Con), chairman, LGA