The start of a nationwide debate on how to pay for adult social care and ‘rescue the services caring for older and disabled people from collapse’ has been welcomed in West Sussex.
Councils up and down the country are under severe pressure due to increased demand for services and reduced funding from central Government.
Earlier this summer ministers announced the publication of a green paper on social care had been pushed back to the autumn.
In response the Local Government Association has launched its own consultation on possible options to improve the system and generate extra funds.
Ideas include increasing income tax for taxpayers of all ages, putting up national insurance, a social care premium for over 40s and working pensioners, means tested universal benefits such as winter fuel allowance and free TV licences or allowing local authorities to increase council tax.
Amanda Jupp, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for adults and health, said: “We welcome the Local Government Association’s nationwide consultation on the funding of adult social care.
“In West Sussex we are already working to influence the upcoming government green paper, calling for professionalisation of the social care workforce and greater transparency around care home performance.
“The demand for adult social care is increasing and people’s needs are becoming more complex. We want to ensure that our services are prepared for the growing demands that are being placed upon them.
“It is hoped that this eight-week consultation being run by the LGA will highlight the much-needed discussion on the requirement to modernise our health and social care system as well as focus on community-based, preventative measures to help reduce pressures on the NHS and keep people living independently for longer.
“It is challenging for all local authorities to respond to reductions in funding, but we will make sure that we will continue to look for innovative ways of delivering sustainable services to our residents.”
Alongside funding issues the LGA green paper also seeks to start a debate about how to shift the overall emphasis of the care and health system so that it focuses far more on preventative, community-based personalised care, helping to maximise people’s health, wellbeing and independence and alleviate pressure on the NHS.
Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “We cannot duck this issue as a society any longer.
“Our green paper is the start of a nationwide public debate about the future of care for all adults, and how best to support their wellbeing, and we encourage as many people and organisations to have their say on how we pay for it and the responsibilities of citizens, families and communities.
“Adult social care and support matters. We must fund it for the long-term so that people of all ages can be supported to live the life they want to live.
“Building a better society means ensuring that everyone receives the care they need to lead a good life: well, independent and at home for as long as possible. This process must start now.”
According to the LGA a debate is desperately needed on how to pay for adult social care and ‘rescue the services caring for older and disabled people from collapse’.
Since 2010 councils have had to bridge a £6bn funding shortfall just to keep the system going, while estimates suggest councils face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025 just to maintain existing standards of care.
Adult social care now makes up nearly 40 per cent of total council budgets.
To view the LGA’s proposals and to comment visit the dedicated website.