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Crisis in care services.

 

Care services for elderly and disabled people in England are "at breaking point" and planned council tax rises are not enough to cover the growing costs, local authorities say.

Nine out of 10 councils say they expect to increase bills by two per cent from April to boost social care funding but the Local Government Association (LGA) says rising demand and the new National Living Wage will absorb most of the cash.

The findings come as a ComRes survey suggests three quarters of people in England and Wales do not want local authorities to cut social care spending and are happy to pay more in council tax to enable payment of the National Living Wage, which represents an increase of 50p an hour above the existing National Minimum Wage.

Social care covers services from help in the home to eat, get dressed or move around to day centres and residential care.Demand is growing as official figures show that the number of people aged above 85 increased by 30 per cent between 2005 and 2014.

The LGA says there will be a shortfall of more than £2.9bn in care services by 2020, and cuts in other areas will mean extra money must still be found.

LGA vice-chair, councillor Nick Forbes, said: “Councils will continue to do all they can to maintain the services that older and vulnerable people rely on but they are at breaking point. It cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try and fix them. Vital social care services will increasingly be unable to help ease the growing pressure on the NHS and the threat of a care home crisis remains very real."

A total of 90 per cent of councils in England are considering, or have approved, plans to raise council tax next year, costing taxpayers on average £24 a year for a Band D property.

The move will raise about £372m a year, but the LGA says increases to the minimum wage, which will be replaced by the National Living Wage in April, will wipe out nearly 90 per cent of that.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said that by 2020, councils would be receiving £3.5bn a year through the council tax rise and money available from a joint fund with the NHS.

He said: "Supporting those most in need is an absolute priority and we have provided a £3.5bn social care package compared to the £2.9bn councils said they needed."

 

 

 

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