Councils will receive an extra £2bn to fund adult social care over the next three years, the government has announced.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said £1bn of the cash will be released in 2017-18 to allow councils to “act now” and commission more social care packages to “relieve pressures on the NHS”. The remaining funding will be provided in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
The chancellor also committed to setting out the government’s proposals for future social care funding in a green paper later this year. However, he ruled out funding social care through a “death tax” – the name given to a system considered by the previous Labour government that would have applied a levy on estates when people die.
In a similar approach to the Better Care Fund, councils will have to work with NHS colleagues to spend the new money and there will be measures to ensure struggling authorities improve.
The ‘improved’ Better Care Fund (BCF) was announced in the 2015 autumn statement, alongside plans for the social care precept – a 2% council tax levy to raise funds for adult services.
The BCF will provide £105m to councils this year, £825m in 2018-19, and £1.5bn in 2019-20.
There have previously been numerous calls to bring the £1.5bn forward to stave off immediate pressures on services.
Margaret Willcox, President Elect of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “We welcome this important step towards closing the growing gap in Government funding for adult social care.
“We are keen to build a consensus on a long-term, sustainable solution about how we provide and pay for care for years to come, and we hope the Green Paper helps to achieve that.”
In its 2017 budget submission, ADASS called on the government to immediately provide £1bn to help stabilise the social care system, and take steps to addressing the “longer-term resourcing issues” for social care beyond the end of the decade.
Martin Green, chief executive for England, said: “The chancellor’s spring budget has quite rightly acknowledged the precarious state of adult social care. While the £2bn additional funding is welcome, it will only be an efficient use of taxpayer’s money should the green paper deliver the reforms that are necessary to put the system on a stable footing.”