Councils in England have warned they will be forced to decommission services if the Government fails to confirm more than £2.4bn in funding for elderly and younger adult care next year.
The funding at risk includes the Improved Better Care Fund, which is coming to the end of its three-year cycle in 2020, alongside the social care grant for councils and a winter pressures grant, both of which were announced at last October’s Budget.
Cllr David Williams, chairman-elect of the County Councils Network, and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: “It would be inconceivable that the temporary grants – particularly the Better Care Fund – that have allowed us to prop up care services and address pressures on the NHS over the past few years, will not continue. But we are still in the dark over whether this lifeline for care services will continue.
“With budget planning for 2020/21 underway, we will reluctantly have to seek to decommission services that are directly funded by these grants in the coming months, in order to present a balanced budget next year – unless this funding is continued.”
Councils are calling on Chancellor Sajid Javid to use his Spending Round this week to confirm all current spending for social care.
Additionally, the councils are urging the Chancellor to fully fund next year’s estimated £652m increase in the costs of delivering care due to rising demand and inflationary pressures.
Even with this additional funding, council projections warn of a £5.2bn funding shortfall next year.
Rehana Azam, National Secretary of GMB Union, said: “Our social care system isn’t just in crisis – it’s fallen apart. Years of unbroken promises has left thousands of elderly and vulnerable people social care needs unmet.
“A third of carers leave the profession every year while funding is woefully behind what is needed.
“Throughout our lives, we will all come into contact with care – be it our mums and dads needing help, working as a carer or knowing someone who does. Ultimately, we will all need it ourselves yet as each year passes access to social care diminishes.
“GMB will not stop until this vital service is properly funded and staff skill sets are properly recognised.
“Social care staff deliver complex care yet they are treated as a Cinderella service compared to NHS.”