National tax rises needed to fund further social care

Council leaders have urged government ministers to make the case for national tax rises to secure the long-term future of adult social care services.

The Local Government Association is publishing its response to its social care green paper consultation at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester, analysing how to fund the future of adult social care, including possible national tax rises to Income Tax and/or National Insurance.

The association says that years of significant underfunding of councils, coupled with rising demand and costs for care and support, have combined to push adult social care services to breaking point. However, the government response has been ‘piecemeal’ and efforts to fundamentally resolve the question of long-term funding for care and support have repeatedly failed.

Therefore, the LGA is now calling on the government to abandon its ‘short-term incrementalism’ and make the case for national tax rises so that current and future generations can be confident they will have the care and support they need to live the life they want to lead. Adult social care services still face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025 just to maintain existing standards of care.

Polling by Britain Thinks, commissioned by the LGA as part of its green paper, found that support for an increase in National Insurance was the most popular with the public of the options put forward with 56 per cent of people in favour, while only 18 per cent opposed the measure.

Other recommendations include reversing the cuts of £600 million to the public health budget between 2015 and 2020, and urgently injecting new national investment to address the social care funding gap, including additional investment to that announced in the 2018 Budget to help address serious provider market stability concerns in 2019/20.

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Work to find a long-term funding solution for adult social care has been kicked into the long grass by successive governments for the past two decades and has brought these vital services to breaking point.

“People have a right to live the life they want to lead and high quality adult social care and support plays an essential role in this. It is also vital to society. It strengthens communities, reduces pressures on the NHS, supports around 1.5 million jobs and contributes as much as £46 billion to the UK economy. The government must use its upcoming green paper to make a serious case for national tax rises including either increases to Income Tax and/or National Insurance to provide long term sustainability for the vital social care services that are central to helping people to live fulfilling, independent lives.

“Now is the time for answers. And every day that is spent further defining the problem and consulting on changes that only really tinker at the edges of the debate, is another day in which people’s lives are not being lived to the full. The government needs to be bold in the solutions it puts forward but it is incumbent upon politicians of all colours to cooperate and be part of a wider movement for change in the national interest.”

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