Additional funding needed to support social care services, LGA warns

Additional funding is needed to support social care from being pushed closer to ‘breaking point’, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

The LGA has argued that the introduction of the National Living Wage risks destabilising the care provider market by adding additional costs to the social care system.

While it supports the National Living Wage, the LGA has warned that it could cost councils around £330 million in 2016/17 to cover the increased social care costs brought about by the higher wage.

It warns that these additional costs come on top of a £5 billion funding gap for social care, compounding the funding pressures on local authorities.

In light of this, the LGA is calling for the government 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 this year.

There are also plans in place to organise urgent talks with care providers to tackle growing concerns regarding social care funding and the effect the National Living Wage could have on care providers.

Izzi Seccombe, community wellbeing spokeswoman at the LGA, said: "Councils fully support proposals to introduce a National Living Wage to help ensure care home staff receive a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. However, the cost of implementing it will significantly add to the growing pressure on services caring for the elderly and disabled which are already at breaking point.

She added: "There is a real risk that councils will struggle to cover the increased contract costs to care providers as a result of the National Living Wage. A lack of funding is already leading to providers pulling out of the publicly-funded care market and shifting their attention towards people who are able to fully fund their own care. We know that care home and domiciliary care providers cannot be squeezed much further and we will be organising an urgent summit with them to unite our concerns that a care home crisis is creeping closer to reality and behind calls for urgent additional funding.”