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Social care deficit for 2017/18 may have been underestimated


6 March 2017

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Social care is facing a funding deficit of £2bn in 2017/18 but in reality this figure could be higher, research by the Health Foundation has found.

The think tank found through interviews with sustainability and transformation plan leaders that although the figure is consistent with other estimates of the social care deficit, the funding gap may exceed £2bn this year.

The Government has allowed local authorities to raise more money through increasing council tax and committed £1.5bn of central funding for social care by 2019/20.

Social care is facing a funding deficit of £2bn in 2017/18 but in reality this figure could be higher, research by the Health Foundation has found.

The think tank found through interviews with sustainability and transformation plan leaders that although the figure is consistent with other estimates of the social care deficit, the funding gap may exceed £2bn this year.

The Government has allowed local authorities to raise more money through increasing council tax and committed £1.5bn of central funding for social care by 2019/20.

But the Health Foundation report said the extra funding is ‘insufficient’ to meet the rising demand on social care and the benefits of the extra funding will not be seen until the end of parliament.

The report added that a ‘robust’ social care system is required to implement the 44 STPs successfully.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said efforts to close the forecasted £22bn funding gap by 2020/21 are ‘at risk’ without extra social care funding.

She said: ‘Vulnerable and older people have the right to expect help when they need it most. But the case for social care is not just moral – it’s about hard-edged economics.’

She added: ‘In next week’s Budget, the Chancellor must help the NHS with extra funding for social care. Tinkering at the edges is not enough – the amount needed by these plans for next year can only come from a direct injection of cash from central government.’

Chairman of the Local Government Association's community wellbeing board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said increases in council tax ‘will not bring in enough money to fully protect the services which care for elderly and vulnerable people’.

She said: ‘Councils see STPs as an important vehicle in redesigning local care and health services to improve health and wellbeing, and the quality of care.

'But we will be unable to achieve this without genuinely new money for social care. It is only by properly investing in social care that we can alleviate the pressures on the NHS.’

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