The County Councils Network (CCN) has responded to reports in the Times that the government is considering delaying charging reforms to adult social care in England, including the introduction of a £86,000 cap on care and a more generous means-test.
Two weeks ago, CCN called for a 12 month delay to flagship social care reforms, which were due to be implemented in October 2023, warning services face a ‘perfect storm’ of financial and workforce pressures over the next 18 months.
Whilst county leaders welcome reports that the government is considering a delay, they warn that the funding committed next year must be retained by councils and reprioritised, not used as a saving as part of the government Medium-Term Fiscal Plan. This would help tackle the £3.7bn additional inflationary and demand costs already hitting services this year and next.
Cllr Martin Tett, County Councils Network Spokesperson for Adult Social Care said:
“The County Councils Network has led calls for the proposed reforms in adult social care to be delayed by a year and we welcome reports that the government is actively considering this.
“With local authorities facing severe workforce and inflation-fuelled financial pressures, they would be impossible to implement in the timescales without making services worse and leading to longer waits for a care package for people on day one of their introduction.
“But while the implementation of the reforms should be delayed, the funding committed next year must be retained by councils and reprioritised, not used as a saving as part of the government Medium-Term Fiscal Plan. This would help tackle the £3.7bn additional inflationary and demand costs which are impacting services this year and next. A delay to implementation will do little for care services if the government does not reprioritise earmarked funding for existing services while also delivering their promise to rebalance funding between health and care. Failure to do so will mean we will be back to square one in 12 months’ time.”
“We understand that today’s reports may come as a disappointment to those who have urged for reform to social care for years, but we cannot run the risk of them falling at the first hurdle. Councils need time to plan and prepare, expand our workforce, and ensure that the new financial burdens facing care services are properly costed.”