Council tax rises 'will not fix’ social care funding, LGA warns

New powers to raise council tax to support social care in 2016/17 will not raise enough to fix the current shortfall of funding, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

Councils will have the power to raise council tax by two per cent to fund social care under the new funding structure announced in the Spending Review last autumn.

The LGA has said that nine in 10 councils in England are considering, or have approved, plans to do so in order to support underfunded social care, which would raise around £372 million. However, the LGA warns that councils stand to receive £2.5 billion less core Revenue Support Grant from central government to run local services in 2016/17.

The LGA claims that the majority of the extra £372 million income may have to be spent covering the costs of councils introducing the national living wage from April, meaning that it will not be sufficient to cover the increased costs to home care and residential care providers.

Council leaders warn that continued cut backs in social care are still likely under this new funding structure, and that councils will have to continue to divert money from other local services such as filling potholes, maintaining parks, running children's centres and libraries, to fill the growing gap in social care funding.

In light of these concerns, the LGA is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to bring forward the £700 million of new funding earmarked for social care through the Better Care Fund by the end of the decade to 2016/17.

Nick Forbes, LGA vice chair, said: "Councils will continue to do all they can to maintain the services that older and vulnerable people rely on but services supporting the elderly and disabled are at breaking point. It cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try and fix them.

"Vulnerable members of the community still face an uncertain future next year where the dignified care and support they deserve, such as help getting dressed, fed or getting out and about, remains at risk. Vital social care services will increasingly be unable to help ease the growing pressure on the NHS and the threat of a care home crisis is still very real.

"That is why, at the very least, the planned £700 million of new funding from the Better Care Fund should be brought forward to 2016/17 in order to help alleviate growing social care pressures."