The report suggests that the government is behind its revised timescales for introducing the reforms, and warns that there is risks in the capacity and resource of local government to implement these changes effectively, under their current funding envelope. This echoes findings from a County Councils Network (CCN) report with Newton last year which found that costs of the reforms could be £10bn more than projected.
The CCN had called for the government to postpone these reforms, which includes a £86,000 cap on care and more generous means-test, last year.
This was because it would have been impossible for councils to implement the changes without worsening services, due to extreme financial pressures. The government put forward a two year delay until October 2025 in response.
Below, the CCN responds to the NAO’s report which analyses progress since that announcement.
Cllr Martin Tett, Adult Social Care Spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said:
“Last year, the County Councils Network (CCN) highlighted that it would be impossible to implement the government’s proposed charging reforms in social care without making services worse due to extreme financial pressures, and the government took the tough but necessary decision to defer them.
“We recognise that there is a clear rationale for introducing these charging reforms, but they cannot be delivered on a shoestring as this National Audit Office report shows. Previous CCN research has shown their costs could be a minimum of £10bn higher than estimated and deepen the workforce crisis in social care. The next government must ensure that these reforms do not fall at the first hurdle by ensuring there is enough resource and workforce capacity in the social care system.”