Reform Delay “The Right One” says County Councils Network

The County Councils Network (CNN) have responded to the Chancellors Autumn Statement, which confirmed that the government is to delay forthcoming adult social care reforms and will provide an uplift in funding for care services, describing the proposals as “a brave decision but completely the right one”.

The Chancellor’s announced package includes £1bn grant funding for social care in 2023/24, and a further £1.7bn in 2024/25, in addition to postponing the social care reforms until October 2025, which is a two year delay.

The breakdown of social care funding, which also incorporates re-prioritising funding set aside for the reforms and extra council tax flexibility, is below:
• £600 million will be distributed in 2023-24 and £1 billion in 2024-25 through the Better Care Fund to get people out of hospital on time into care settings, freeing up NHS beds for those that need them Autumn Statement 2022 27
• £1.3 billion in 2023-24 and £1.9 billion in 2024-25 will be distributed to local authorities through the Social Care Grant for adult and children’s social care
• £400 million in 2023-24 and £680 million in 2024-25 will be distributed through a grant ringfenced for adult social care which will also help to support discharge

CCN had led calls for social care reforms to be delayed because of intense pressures on services – and for funding earmarked for the changes to be re-prioritised to frontline care services.
Below, the CCN responds to today’s announcements.

Cllr Tim Oliver, Chairman of the County Councils Network, said:
“The County Councils Network has been clear that its member councils face unsustainable pressures: with inflation and demand adding £3.5bn to their costs, we have called on the government to postpone the forthcoming adult social care reforms so funding earmarked for those changes can be reinvested in into stabilising care services that are creaking at the seams, as well as further support for vital services.

“Today’s confirmation that these reforms for adult social care will be delayed is a brave decision but completely the right one. We understand that many will be disappointed but postponing these reforms and reinvesting significant additional funding into frontline care services is strongly welcomed and will protect the most vulnerable in our society as well as buy councils vital time to stabilise the care system. This will go a long way to enable us to address existing pressures, commission more care packages, and ensure that the reforms are a success on day one of their introduction in 2025. The government must ensure that as much of this additional funding as possible is distributed directly to councils, who will work tirelessly with their health partners to speed up hospital discharge.
We understand the financial climate the Chancellor has made today’s decisions in, and the outcome is better than envisioned a few weeks ago – with councils spared any further reductions over the next two years and seeing a rise in funding due to the additional resources for social care and extra flexibilities on council tax. We also strongly welcome the extension of the Household Support Fund for councils, which will allow our members to provide more support to families through the cost of living crisis.

“However, while today’s announcements help meet inflationary and social care pressures, councils still face very difficult decisions over the next two years, with little resource available for local leaders to protect non-care services and deliver improvements to vital services. In addition, some county leaders may be reluctant to levy a 5% council tax increase during a cost-of-living crisis considering ratepayers in county areas currently pay the highest bills on average.

“Looking ahead, a reduction in planned funding growth from 2025 could be extremely difficult for local services, which are already under immense pressure. Unless government addresses inflation next year, and the economy picks up before 2025, councils’ funding shortfall will grow year-on-year and become unsustainable.”

 

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