CSA respond to plans to allow 2% council tax rises… CSA_logo-155-110

A briefing from the CSA  (Care and Support Alliance) following on from an article at the weekend published in The Guardian which suggested that the Government will allow council tax to increase by 2% to address social care funding issues:

You will have seen over the weekend the announcement that George Osborne is preparing to allow councils to raise council tax by up to 2% in their areas if they are facing a social care funding crisis, which if EVERY council decided to use this power, and ring-fenced the funding ONLY for social care could raise up to £2bn across the rest of this government.

The new source of funds for social care is expected to be announced in the autumn statement on Wednesday. It will be seen as both an attempt to devolve further revenue raising powers to councils in England and Wales, and also address the gathering social care crisis.

This feels like a cynical attempt to side line social care funding from the debate on Wednesday by slipping it in over the weekend, therefore colleagues from within the CSA, seeking views from partners from ADASS, VODG, Kings Fund have attempted to create a strong position in response to this announcement and will be seeking to find media opportunities on Monday & Tuesday to provide some balance.

Broadly our analysis of the issue (caveated heavily by the fact that there is currently limited clear information as to what the offer actually is) is as follows:

1) £2bn across the rest of the parliament is insufficient to make any real difference to the issue.
2) Raising £2bn is entirely dependent upon every council using this power to its maximum effect, and using all proceeds to fund adult social care.
3) Government had already made a manifesto commitment to fund social care to the tune of £6bn in the Care Act Part 2 “the cap”, which they postponed earlier in the year. As we have said consistently funding of less than this amount is a betrayal of older and disabled people and their carers.
4) Councils can already raise council tax by 1.99% without going to referendum, and many are going to need to do this simply in order to make ends meet with their ever diminishing settlement. Even if this is an ability to increase by a further 2% it leaves an interesting political question for local councillors to battle with.
5) It is a fact that the need for social care is higher in areas with higher levels of poverty.
6) These are self-same areas of the country where property values are lower, and as such “the new power” will have the least effect.
7) We know that parts of the North East and the North West have already experienced the largest average cuts to spending per person, which has in turn squeezed the fees paid to care providers. These areas will have the least ability to raise funding through council tax raises.
8) On the basis of the above this removes the notion of a national eligibility level.
9) This increases even further the risk of regional provider failure.
10) The funding isn’t ring fenced so risks being spent on potholes & libraries.
11) Ultimately this isn’t enough to fund the universally acknowledged gap, and is silent about the cost of the living wage.