To alter the funding landscape at this stage undermines local authority attempts to plan sustainable services, says London Councils’ director of fair funding, performance and procurement
Most agree the recent Care Act will fundamentally change how social care is commissioned, delivered and paid for.
In London, we are expecting the number of those eligible for care and support to rise by 27% once the act comes into force.
With this in mind, I turned to the current government consultation.
Technical in nature, it proposes options for the distribution of £284m to fund the implementation costs for local authorities, notably targeting assessments, raising awareness and capacity building.
Though this type of consultation is commonplace, its message is concerning. There seems to be a number of glaring omissions, including:
- No account has been taken of social care clients under the age of 65 despite this group making up 40% of those receiving local authority support in London;
- Within some of the proposals there is an oddly narrow interpretation of home ownership. With the category applied to 100% ownership only, if you have a mortgage or shared ownership, you’re not captured;
- The robustness of some of the data samples is questionable.
If these proposals are implemented, they transform the ‘illustrative’ funding allocations announced last December.
For London, this could mean a reduction from what was anticipated of £13m (30%). Nine boroughs will see a drop of over 50%.
We estimate that implementing the Care Act in London is likely to cost about £90m. If the proposals in this consultation go ahead they are likely to leave us with a funding gap of £36m.
This issue is not isolated to London. These proposals shift money away from the north-east, the north-west and many other metropolitan areas; an overall reduction in these areas of £13m or 19% according to some analyses.
On the other hand, Wokingham will see an increase of 68%, Dorset 46%, and Buckinghamshire 39%. In total the shire counties could receive an increase in funding of 23%. Some might see this as rather odd.
The illustrative allocations have been available for eight months. Systems and processes have been designed. Plans have been put in place.
To fundamentally alter the funding landscape at this stage undermines local authority attempts to plan sustainable services and yet again weakens confidence in the finance system.
Hugh Grover, director of fair funding, performance and procurement, London Councils