Unless there is new funding to plug a £2.6bn gap in the cost of social care for pensioners, councils will find it impossible to fulfil their legal duties under the new Care Act.
This will leave it on the brink of failing altogether and councils facing the prospect of court challenges, according to the Local Government Association.
In its submission to the Treasury ahead of the Spring Budget, the LGA listed the consequences of the Government’s refusal to provide enough money to local authorities to pay for social care.
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These included care providers pulling out of the publicly-funded care market or going bust, shorter care visits and more people bed-blocking in hospitals because there was no help provided to them at home.
They also said a growing number of vulnerable pensioners would be left stranded without help with basic needs such as getting washed and dressed, or helped out of bed so they could carry on living in their own home.
Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: “The Care Act is a really important piece of legislation.
If no extra money is found, the system is expected to fail
“But the intentions and the spirit of the Care Act that aims to help people to live well and independently, are in grave danger of falling apart and failing, unless new funding is announced by government for adult social care.
“If no new money is urgently announced, then government needs to be honest and upfront with the public about the limitations of the care and support we can provide, and the fact that as a society we will no longer be able to meet the ambitions and objectives of the Care Act.
“Genuinely new government funding is now the only way to save the Care Act, and to protect the services caring for our elderly and disabled people and ensure they can enjoy dignified, healthy and independent lives, live in their own community and stay out of hospital for longer, reducing the pressures on the NHS.”
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Vulnerable pensioners could be left by themselves with no access to help
The Care Act, which passed into law in 2014, was several years in the making and represents the biggest reform of adult social care in a generation.
If no new money is urgently announced, then government needs to be honest and upfront with the public about the limitations of the care and support we can provide
Izzi Seccombe, LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board
The legislation aims to give people more control over their lives and places a duty on councils to promote people’s well-being.
But councils say that if government does not urgently announce any new money for social care, then ministers need to be “honest and upfront” with the public about the limitations of the care and support they can provide.
The warning came as ministers from the Departments of Health, Local Government and Work and Pensions appeared before a cross-party committee in Westminster to face questions about the funding of adult social care.
Only eight per cent of adult social care bosses are confident in meeting their duties
Just eight per cent of directors of adult social care in councils say they are confident in their capacity to meet the full duties of the Care Act in the coming financial year, according to the latest ADASS budget survey.
The LGA estimates the overall funding gap facing social care remains at least £2.6 billion by 2020, after the Government failed to announce new money in the Autumn Statement and Local Government Finance Statement.
In its Budget submission, the LGA also calls on government to set out contingency plans to deal with major failure in the care provider market, with the lack of funding already causing some providers to hand contracts back to councils or close homes.
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