Housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid has announced he will provide an additional £150m for adult social care services in 2018-19.
The money is to be “taken from anticipated underspend in existing departmental budgets, and will not affect existing revenue commitments made to local government,” said Mr Javid.
In his written ministerial statement on the final local government finance settlement, Mr Javid added: “This will be allocated according to relative needs and we will expect to see councils use it to build on their progress so far in supporting sustainable local care markets.”
In addition, Mr Javid has also increased the rural services delivery grant by £31m - £16m more than proposed in the provisional settlement - to £81m.
The extra funding comes after backbench Conservative MPs piled pressure on the government to provide more funding for rural areas.
According to research by Pixel of final allocations, county councils will receive £56m of the additional social care funding, London boroughs £23m, metropolitan districts £37m and unitary councils £34m.
Responding to the announcement Local Government Association chair Lord Porter (Con) described the extra £150m as a “temporary measure” in the context of projected social care funding gap of £2.3bn by 2019-20.
He added: “Councils in England face an overall funding gap that will exceed £5bn by 2020.
“We remain clear that the government needs to allow local government to keep every penny of business rates collected to plug this growing funding gap and provide the £1.3bn needed right now to stabilise the care provider market.”
Lord Porter said some councils are being pushed “perilously close to the financial edge”, with many forced to scale back services or stop them altogether.
Due to errors found in Valuation Office Agency data used to calculate how much councils will either receive or have to pay in as part of the top up and tariff business rates system, Lord Porter said “more than half of councils will have less income in 2018-19”. He said they “should not be penalised for this error and we continue to call on the Treasury to use the central share of business rates to ensure that no council receives less than what they have been planning for”.
County Councils Network chair Paul Carter (Con) welcomed the extra £150m for social care but called for a local government to be placed on a secure financial footing.
He said: “While this funding provides some new resource for this coming financial year we must continue to work with ministers, who understand the enormity of the financial challenges facing counties, to deliver a long-term sustainable and fair funding solution to meet the estimated £2.54bn funding gap for counties.”
Cllr Carter added the fair funding review consultation had started in a “positive vein” and called for an evidenced-based methodology “that truly recognises growing demographic pressures in counties and the additional costs of delivering services in rural areas”.
President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Margaret Willcox, who is also Gloucestershire CC’s director of adult social care, told LGC: “All money is welcome and we will make the most of what we get, but considering councils need more than £2bn just to stand still in 2018-19 it is not going to make a great deal of difference.
“It also depends on what they define as [relative] need. Will it be spent in areas struggling with delayed transfers of care?”
Andrew Gwynne, shadow communities and local government secretary, said: “Councils have faced up to £6.3bn of enforced cuts to adult social care and the funds announced by Sajid Javid today come nowhere near close to meeting the funding gap.
“Whilst this bung may stop a rebellion on the back benches, Sajid Javid has shown that he is prepared to find funds to save his own skin, but is not prepared to find the funding for vulnerable children and adult social care.”
Meanwhile, District Councils’ Network chair John Fuller (Con) said the government had not acknowledged the role of districts in reducing demand on high cost social care services by allowing further flexibilities on council tax.
He said: “For 88 district councils, leaving the £5 council tax threshold unchanged means these district councils are unable to generate a much-needed additional increase – a potential £9m if this figure had been increased to £7.50 - to provide the resources to help reduce demand for social care by fixing issues one family at a time.”
So Sajid Javid just anounced extra funding for adult social care this year that amounts to less than 1% of the total amount spent by councils every year on adult social care. Nice to have a bit extra of course but it really is just a bit extra. Need a sustainable solution here.— Adam Lent (@adamjlent) February 6, 2018