It’s early days and will obviously take a little time to fully absorb the key outcomes of the spending review. However, The Care and Support Alliance, of which ARC England are members, are concerned about the reliability of ‘ringfencing’ the 2% raise in council tax, and the monies to be saved in the Better Care Fund, for much needed spending on social care. These are the CSA’s initial lines in response to the Government’s plans:-
  • The 2% Council tax rise: 
The Government have confirmed that they will allow councils to be flexible in raising their council tax by 2% to raise funds to help social care pressures. CSA are concerned that raising it through councils tax means that wealthier local areas are able to raise more, but it is poorer local areas, which are in need of greater social care support who are limited in what they are able to raise.
It will also be a real challenge for Government to ensure that sufficient mechanisms are in place to make sure that money reaches social care.
As the 2% is optional, there is concerns with how many local councils will actually seek to increase the council tax by 2% which inevitably means that is very unlikely to raise all of the almost £2bn estimated
  • Better Care Fund:  
The Government have also stated there will be a £1.5bn increase in the Better Care Fund. The CSA believe that there must be clarity on whether the money will actually go to social care, as the BCF is an integrated fund shared with the NHS.
The Government have also claimed that this will be an ‘improved better care fund’ we therefore need clarity on how this will be improved to ensure it becomes effective in supporting social care needs.
This money will also not be seen until 2017/18.
The CSA are also disappointed with the potential income that could be raised from these announcements, which at the most amounts to almost £3.5bn, which does not come close to dealing with the significant funding gap and meeting the social care demands.
You can read the full Spending Review here, please note that social care is also mentioned in the chapter pertaining to devolution.