Government levy could create 'significant financial challenges' for Royal Borough

Shay Bottomley

A new health and social levy spearheaded by the Government could create ‘significant financial challenges’ for the Royal Borough, according to one lead member.

It comes after a survey by the Local Government Association found that an overwhelming majority of councils were not confident in Government plans for social care reforms.

Of the £36billion the new UK-wide health and social levy will raise over the next three years, only £5.4 billion is ringfenced for social care reforms in England.

These include the introduction of a ‘fair rate of care’ that councils will pay providers and tackling the issue of self-funders paying more for their care than those who access support at the council rate.

Cllr Stuart Carroll, cabinet member for adult social care, children’s services, health, mental health, & transformation for the Royal Borough, said the council was trying to bring ‘certainty’ to its modelling, but added the proposals ‘have the potential to cause significant financial challenges across the council’.

He added: “Given the current financial envelope, council funding would need to be focussed in the first instance on high end adult and children’s services.

“We are gathering exact data, but we believe more than 50 per cent of those receiving social care in the area are fully self-funding.

“This means on top of issues about market stability and cross subsidy we would see a 100 per cent increase in clients being assessed and costs tracked. All told the total increase in cost and loss of income is estimated to be over £12million.

“It is essential that Government allocates new funds to each council individually as the impact of these changes will hit councils very differently and some broad-brush allocation will fail.

“In addition, an increase in caseloads for councils would also require extra resourcing across a number of roles at a time when the care sector faces recruitment challenges.”

Challenges are also being felt across the border into Buckinghamshire.

Angela Macpherson, Buckinghamshire Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing said:“Whilst there is clear support from local government for these long awaited social care reforms recent reports from the CCN and Newton show that there will be a significant financial and operational cost to these reforms, particularly in areas with high numbers of residents who self-fund their care currently.

“Local authorities are also facing a mountain of extra assessments required for thousands of people who will be coming to the council to benefit from the Adult Social Care reforms (October 2023), and these will be extremely difficult to deliver, particularly with current challenges in the recruitment market in social care.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have made it clear reforming adult social care is a priority and we are investing £5.4billion over the next three years to end spiralling care costs and support the workforce.

“This includes £3.6billion to reform the social care charging system and enable all local authorities to move towards paying providers a fair cost of care, and a further £1.7 billion to begin major improvements across adult social care in England, funded by the Health and Social Care Levy.

“Our investment via the levy is on top of record annual funding to help councils respond to rising demands and cost pressures.”

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