Don’t kick social care reform into the long grass, county leaders urge

CCN Latest News | 20 June 2017

CCN Social Care

County leaders are urging the government to avoid ‘kicking social care reform into the long grass’ following this month’s general election.

Health experts and leading county councillors will meet this week at special half-day summit to discuss the future and present challenges in social care in an event organised jointly by the County Councils Network (CCN) and KPMG.

But leaders of Englands county authorities, who are responsible for around half the country’s spend on social care, warn that the government risks repeating the well-documented social care funding crisis in a few years time unless tangible and long-lasting reform is sought.

They ask Theresa Mays administration to start a national conversation on social care and launch a green paper on the future sustainability of social care. Counties and their local government partners must play a full and active part in this review and any subsequent reform.

Today, key figures such as Stephen Dorrell, chair of the NHS Confederation, Martin Green, from Care England, and William Laing, of LaingBuisson will get together to debate how local government can adapt to the challenges ahead, develop long-term solutions, and share good practice.

Long-term sustainability is crucial for counties, as they are home to the largest and fastest-elderly populations, yet receive the lowest funding per over 65 resident compared to any other local authority type. LG Futures estimates that on average, counties receive 60% less government funding per elderly resident than inner London.

CCN is asking for clarity from the government on the future of the needs-based fair funding review, which the previous administration had committed to doing before 2019/20. A fairer and sustainable funding formula for local government could help resolve the historic underfunding of county areas and counter existing unfunded pressures; with a new methodology funding local authorities based on their need.

Cllr Colin Noble, health and social care spokesman for CCN and leader of Suffolk County Council, said:

We know social care has been a hotly-disputed topic, but government should not waver in its convictions for reform: the long-term sustainability for social care depends on whether we have a national cross-sector conversation on how to ensure we can cope with demand that will only intensify.

Only last year, the cross-party CLG committee highlighted the need for reform, focusing on the fragile state of care markets, building on CCNs work. Therefore, we should not look to kick the social care green paper into the long grass. Equally, any reform must be underpinned by a fair and sustainable funding methodology for county areas, which funds councils based on their need, rather than the current outdated and regressive formula.

It is crucial that county authorities play a full and active part in any future discussions over the long-term sustainability of social care, using our experience at the coalface to help shape proposals.