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LGC View - Social care reform

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The financial pressure being put on councils’ budgets by the future cost of caring for the elderly and infirm threatens to obliterate their ability to provide any other services.

At the same time, councils’ track record in providing advice and ‘consumer’ assistance to those who fund their own care is not exactly setting the world on fire.

So as the government considers how to fund the social care system as part of the next spending review, it is probably not beyond the realms of possibility that someone in the Treasury or the Department of Health will ask why not just take the issue out of councils’ hands altogether and run it as a national service?

The report published by the all-party parliamentary local government group - through the Local Government Information Unit thinktank - gives the answer to that question.

The scale of the financial pressures that an ageing population brings is simply too great to be met from general taxation. It is from individuals, and the families of individuals, that costs will be met.

The bigger game is to reduce those costs through prevention and preventative services. And this is where local government offers something that a centrally run service cannot.

As the MPs’ report makes clear, it is through a boost in funding, better integration of health and care services and the empowerment of health and wellbeing boards - as well as the cap on individuals’ costs - that a way out of the long grass will be found.
Dan Drillsma-Milgrom, deputy editor (news)

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