Warning Over £4.3bn Social Care ‘Black Hole’
A group of more than 80 charities has warned that the social care system is facing an estimated £4.3bn funding “black hole” by 2020 as major reforms come into place across England.
The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) says thousands of disabled and elderly people risk losing out on vital help unless more funding is allocated for social care.
Reforms under the Care Act come into effect in England today. The act was passed last year and represents the most comprehensive overhaul of the system since 1948.
The changes establish the first-ever national eligibility threshold, a set of criteria to determine when local authorities need to provide people with support.
The reforms aim to address variations which currently exist between local authorities.
They also introduce a personal cap on care costs of £72,000, excluding accommodation.
While welcoming some aspects of the Care Act, the charities say the reforms will only succeed if adequate funding is provided for the social care system.
Cuts in social care will amount to an estimated £4.3bn by the end of the decade, according to the Local Government Association (LGA) and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).
CSA chairman Richard Hawkes said: “The Care Act is a bold and ambitious piece of legislation. But it will only live up to its promise of a genuinely preventative system that promotes well-being if it is properly funded.
“Chronic under-funding of social care has seen dramatic year-on-year rationing of support for older and disabled people and their carers, excluding hundreds of thousands of people from the support they desperately need.
“Equally, while we welcome a national threshold for eligibility, by setting the bar at such a high level, the Government has ensured that the year-on-year rationing that has seen people squeezed out of the system will continue.
“Ultimately, social care is an election issue and whoever forms the next government needs to urgently address the crisis in care funding, as well as in the health system.”
Janet Morrison, chief executive of older people’s charity Independent Age, said: “The Care Act has the potential to radically improve the lives of older people but could fall at the first hurdle for lack of funds.
“Thousands of frail and elderly people don’t get any help at all at the moment with basic tasks such as washing, dressing and eating.
“Without proper funding to plug the black hole in social care funding – estimated by councils to be £4.3bn by the end of the decade – this problem looks set to get worse despite the bold and welcome ambitions of the act.”
Source: Sky News