Health secretary Andrew Lansley has dismissed research by the LGA which warned of a crisis in social care funding within a decade.
Asked on Tuesday about the LGA’s figures, which showed the cost of care could account for almost half of all council expenditure by the end of the decade, Mr Lansley told the health select committee: “I’m not going to accept those figures…they make assumptions which underestimate the extent to which local authorities have demonstrated they can achieve efficiency savings.”
LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell (Con) had claimed the research showed councils would be forced to “wind down” popular services if care funding was not addressed.
But Mr Lansley cited the recent budget survey conducted by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services which showed that three-quarters of savings in social care budgets had been made by “efficiency and service redesign” rather than reductions to services.
Mr Lansley also said councils would receive support from the government to run the universal deferred payments scheme set out in last week’s social care white paper, in which councils will lend money to residential care users to be repaid once they sell their house.
He said: “Local authorities would make the loans but the government would stand behind them in the consequences of taking on that debt.
“A system has been in place, without interest [charges]. The difficulty is that it is often not available and local authorities incur substantial costs as a result of it.”
During the hearing, Labour MP Barbara Keeley accused Mr Lansley of “kicking social care reform into the long grass.” In response, Mr Lansley said: “The premise of that simply is not true.”
Mr Lansley was also asked why a voluntary insurance system was under consideration. “It’s well established that such models fall foul of low take-up and adverse selection,” Labour MP Rosie Cooper said.
In response the health secretary said: “Because we are considering a range of options. Dilnot proposed that those who are, broadly speaking, the beneficiaries, should be the ones who pay.”