Councils have raised concern over the government’s proposed changes to the social care system, regarding whether adequate funding will be available.
The proposed plans, which include a cap on how much people will pay towards residential care and the introduction of council funding, are part of a greater scheme to change the way social care will be provided, starting next year.
A poll of 152 councils in England has found that nine in ten have concerns over the new plans, questioning whether the councils will be financially equipped to handle the responsibility. Councillor Katie Hall of the Local Government Association (LGA) said government may have failed to properly fund the changes it has promised to people.
She says:[quote]”Councils want to help as many people who require support and care as possible.
However, with only eight months to go until councils will have to start implementing these changes, the clock is ticking for government to get the funding right, so that these vital reforms do not face collapse before they have even begun.”[/quote]
The plan to revamp the UK’s social care system has been in the pipeline for some time, with changes expected to come into play in 2015 to alleviate the costs some face when going into care.
The amount of help available will be capped at £72,000 during a person’s lifetime, and will only be available to those with the most severe needs.
However, soon councils will be required to start assessing those who pay for care themselves, to see if they also qualify for help. It is estimated that this is the case for more than 400,000 in care.
This is expected to amount to an unimaginable amount of money, which has got councils wondering dubiously about the reforms’ legitimacy.
Caroline Abrahams from charity Age UK agreed with the LGA, saying:[quote]A great new system on paper is pointless unless there is sufficient funding in place.”[/quote]
The LGA has also written to Norman Lamb, the care services minister, to raise the growing concern shared by all councils. The group has been long campaigning against the cuts made to council budgets; particularly those made in the last year under the curent parliament.
A Department for Health spokeswoman, on the other hand, argued there “should be enough money available” because councils had received an extra £1.1 billion in funding this year to fund social care services.
She also added that another £470 million was being set aside next year to support implementation of the proposed reforms.