There is a huge divide in how much councils in England have to spend on adult social care depending on whether authorities are rural or located in cities.
Rural councils have significantly less money to spend on care, equipment and adaptations for elderly people, according to a new report by The Salvation Army.
Adult social care is largely funded by local business rates, council tax and other local charges but areas with lower house prices, fewer businesses cannot raise as much money as more urban areas.
In fact, some areas are able to raise up to five times more revenue than other authorities.
This has led to deep levels of funding inequality across the entire country and prevents most local authorities from providing adequate social care for older residents.
Lambeth Council in London is able to spend £31,638 per head on elderly care whereas Dorset Council has just £5,762.
The Salvation Army is asking the government to prioritise properly funding adult social care and funding most of it centrally. It sees this as the only way to ensure that money is distributed more fairly and all older people get the help they need.
Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant, of The Salvation Army, said: “Rural local authorities have been set up to fail with this flawed formula and it urgently needs revision.
“People are living longer and the population is ageing, the adult social care bill is rising but the local authority funding streams aren’t enough to cover the demand, especially in areas where there are not many businesses or people to tax.
“The government must prioritise its spending and properly fund adult social care. For years the rhetoric has been that councils can raise sufficient funds through local taxation to pay for older peoples’ care.
“This Salvation Army analysis proves that local authorities are being asked to achieve the impossible. Put simply; you can’t squeeze local businesses for more tax if your local businesses are struggling.”
He added: “In a few days we will know who our new Prime Minster is. His priority must be to set a proper timetable for the long-awaited Green Paper on Adult Social Care as that will be an opportunity to rethink how we fund caring for older people. He must also consider how we spend the money saved by years of reducing national debt.”