Changes to adult social care could leave London boroughs with an additional bill of £1.14billion – equivalent to half the current annual cost of adult social care for the capital (1) – is the fresh warning from London Councils.
Government reforms, currently going through Parliament, introduce a lifetime contribution limit of £72,000 for care users with assets of above £23,250. Under the plans, state help will also be available for the first time for anyone with assets under £118,000.
Councils will be asked to cover care costs for residents who have reached the limit. London Councils, which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, says the new system will cost boroughs £738million by 2019/20 on top of their existing costs. Demographic pressures and inflation could add £399m to that bill (2).
In addition, London boroughs will need £90m ahead of April 2016 to fund preparations for the new system. Under current formula, the boroughs are likely to receive just £52m.
Councillor Ravi Govindia, Executive member for adult services at London Councils, said: “The proposed changes to adult social care are welcome as they will give people more certainty around the future cost of their care.
“However, it is vital that there is enough funding so that local authorities can deliver the services they will be asked to. We don’t want to see councils being left to pick up the tab at a time when money is tight.
“Our research shows more elderly people in the capital are going to reach the care cost limit much sooner than in other parts of the country. We would like to see these regional differences reflected in the policy.”
Estimates are that care users in London, on average, will reach the contribution limit in three and a half years. In the north east, care users are, on average, likely to reach it in six years.
An Ipsos MORI poll of 1000 Londoners, commissioned by London Councils (3), showed 58 per cent believe that should they need to use care and support services in the future these will be free and nearly two-thirds know nothing or very little of plans to ‘cap’ or limit costs.
Cllr Govindia added: “It is clear that most people do not realise they will still need to meet some costs. A national campaign is needed to raise awareness of these new policies and help to identify people who may be eligible for support.”
The government has pledged to ‘fully and properly fund’ additional costs for local authorities brought about by policy reforms in its New Burdens Doctrine. It has promised councils nationally will receive £335m towards preparations for the new funding regime ahead of its launch in April 2016.