Capital faces £17m Care Bill shortfall, warn council chiefs

London Councils identifies resource gap for implementing care funding reforms but government challenges its figures

Measures to implement the Care Bill funding reforms will leave London boroughs £17m out of pocket in 2015-16, London Councils warned today.

The capital’s local authority association estimated that measures councils would have to take in 2015-16 would cost £90m in London, but is only backed with £73m from central government, leaving a shortfall of over £500,000 per council.

These include measures to implement funding changes in April 2015, such as the introduction of a deferred payments scheme to help people meet the costs of residential care, and prepare for further changes in April 2016, notably the ‘cap’ on individuals’ care costs. For example, councils will have to start assessing self-funders who want to be considered for the cap in 2015, ahead of its implementation.

However, London Councils’ figures were challenged by the Department of Health.

“These figures are misleading as no decisions have been made about allocations for our funding reforms,” said a spokesperson.

“We are working with a wide range of councils and independent experts to develop a fair method for allocating funding and are providing an additional £335m in 2015-16 to specifically cover the cost of bringing in our reforms to care and support funding.

“We will ensure that councils are fairly funded for the costs they face.”

Councillor Ravi Govindia, the executive member for adult services at London Councils, said: “In London, where care users are more likely to reach the contribution limit for their care earlier than in other parts of the country, the proposed changes will have a huge impact.

“Boroughs will need to have adequately trained staff and proper systems in place to meet the huge expected demand.

“Yet our figures indicate boroughs are likely to get much less money than they need from central government to cover the costs of preparing for these changes, which will put an even greater strain on existing budgets and potentially leave other services at risk.”

London Councils’ estimate of the costs and shortfall is based on a survey of 17 boroughs carried out in August 2013.

The release of London Councils’ estimates came as Parliament’s health select committee published a report on health and social care spending.

The committee expressed concern that the significant resource pressures in social care posed growing challenges for the government’s ambitions to integrate health and social care.

It also reiterated its call for social care funding to be protected from real-terms cuts, in the same way as the NHS is, to help foster integration and protect the quality and safety of services.

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