Long-awaited reforms to the care system in the UK are being put at risk because of a £135 million funding gap, according to a alliance of charities, council leaders and care bosses.
It says the Government’s Care Bill suggests the changes will only happen if money is transferred from the NHS to the care system, which could mean that money earmarked for social care would be used for bureaucratic purposes.
In a letter to the Telegraph, the groups argue that services used by older people will ‘inevitably suffer’ from the funding gap, even though care has not been as hard hit as other areas by the Government cuts.
The letter was written by the Local Government Association (LGA), the Care and Support Alliance – which represents almost 80 disability and old age charities – and is supported by organisations representing chief executives and social care chiefs.
The Government’s Care Bill is based on the recommendations of the Dilnot report, a landmark report by economist Sir Andrew Dilnot, and will make sure that people will have to pay no more than £72,000 on care bills in their lifetime.
It will also include a loan scheme aimed at preventing people from having to sell the family home to pay for care bills, and a new national test to end the current postcode lottery when it comes to deciding whether people qualify for help.
The Department of Health will provide £335 million in funding in 2015 to help set up the reforms, which will pay for a mass assessment programme and initial funding for the loan scheme.
However, the LGA says £135 million will be taken from the Better Care Fund – a special fund mostly taken from the NHS for social care – to help pay for some other start-up costs.
‘The legislation could end up being funded from money otherwise used for acute services,’ the letter warns. ‘Although local authorities have limited the impact on the essential care services that people rely on, these services will inevitably suffer.’
The LGA and the other groups who wrote the letter are supporting an amendment to the Care Bill – tabled by Paul Burstow, the former care minister – which would see a