Rising care costs leave councils facing £16.5bn black hole

Funding gap underlines need for government to urgently reform adult social care funding, says Local Government Association.

Adult care set to exceed 45% of council budgets by 2020 (Image: OJO Images/Rex Features)

Councils in England face a £16.5bn funding shortfall by 2020 due to the escalating costs of adult social care and government cuts, the Local Government Association warned today.

The LGA said the black hole, which measures the gap between projected funding for councils and the cost of maintaining services at current levels, illustrated the urgency of reforming adult social care funding.

With the government due to produce a White Paper on social care reform shortly, the LGA said ministers needed to inject immediate resources into adult care to meet existing resource gaps while also implementing longer-term reforms to make the system more sustainable.

The LGA’s analysis involves projections, based on government estimates, that Whitehall funding for councils will fall from 2015-20, compounding the 28% cut in real-terms funding for local authorities from 2011-15. At the same time demography will fuel additional demand for adult social care, meaning that spending on the service will exceed 45% of council budgets by 2019-20, and implying massive cuts to services such as libraries and leisure.

LGA chair Merrick Cockell said: “By the end of the decade councils may be forced to wind down some of the most popular services they provide unless urgent action is taken to address the crisis in adult social care funding.
 
“Efficiency savings won’t go close to solving this problem. We need an immediate injection of money into the adult care system to meet rising demand in the short term, alongside a major revision of the way it is paid for and delivered in future.”

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