Social care funding and party politics

Pardon the Interruption

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New analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that a growing elderly population, increases in the number of disabled adults, and increases in wage and other costs mean English councils will likely need billions in extra funding if they are to meet the rising costs of providing adult social care just to maintain services at current levels.

For 2020/21, the government announced an additional £1 billion grant for adult and children's social care, and a consultation on councils raising council tax by 2%.

Councils’ spending on local public services per resident will, next year, still be at least 20% below 2009–10 levels on average, according to the IFS.

The Labour party pledged in September that should it get into power, it would introduce free personal care for all older people, providing help with daily tasks and residential care.

David Phillips, an associate director at the institute, is sceptical of both parties' plans, saying: “The additional funding announced for councils next year could be just a lull in the storm. Detailed public spending plans for 2021–22 and beyond have not yet been published. But we do know that councils will rely on council tax and business rates for more of their funding going forwards."

Those revenues are unlikely to keep pace with the cost of services, he added. "That means finding billions more in funding to top up existing local tax revenues, even before thinking about new initiatives like free personal care.”

How can the social care crisis be addressed? Should pensions be used to do so?