In general, Adult Social Care Funding involves the funding that is made in favor of adults of all ages, both the elderly and working adults who may be suffering from one of the issues below:
- Sight or hearing loss
- Physical or learning disabilities
- A mental health problem
The funding is meant to retain the suffering person’s independence to live the best possible quality of life. However, the payment only applies to those who are not cared for by their families, friends or neighbours, otherwise known as informal care. These in need of formal care, provided by the local authorities and professional carers, may be eligible for the funding.
In England, adult social care is the responsibility of the local government and those who want to obtain the funding towards the adult social care need to reach them first.
Factors affecting the Adult Social Care Funding
Generally, Adult Social Care Funding appears to be moving in a very controlled way from the central government to local authorities. Although the same needs assessment criteria have to be followed by all the councils, they want to be given more independence in terms of their budget allocation towards the social care services.
Now, social care needs an assessment process that has been standardized and for which the national minimum eligibility criteria have been introduced. Previously, councils had more flexibility to determine who was in need of social care services.
A dictated budget that is measured in terms of ring-fenced grant funding by a central government assessment of adult social care needs, has resulted in an outstanding drop in adult social care spending in the last decade. The central government’s ability to assess the local needs are questioned from both, a caregiving and financial perspective. Similarly, the demographics of a local area can change drastically, as a potential consequence of Brexit and economic drivers, mean that flexibility of funding and services provided will likely be crucial for the upcoming future. When this is combined with the aging population, we can see the strains on local services that may be about to increase significantly.
Raising extra finance towards this strain on social care services has to come from somewhere. As per the IFS report, the business rates revenues and council tax are unlikely to ‘keep pace’ with the projected rise that’s been spent on for social care. To keep up with the demands in respect to the budget, the councils would need to make some changes towards the business rates and council tax. Another option could be the use of a larger proportion of the council’s budget to fund social care spending, but then other services, such as local police, may become under-invested.
What’s the Outcome?
With respect to Adult Social Care Funding, many solutions have been suggested. One of them is creating a ring-fenced grant which is taken from council tax and business rates revenues that completely cover the adult social care that has been spent on for England citizens. However, this will take a reported £15 billion that has been spent out on towards the local council, who are potentially the people that best understand where the budget must be spent on. Apart from this, there is another problem concerning the ring-fenced grant arises when funding is considered towards the council tax fluctuation, if the council tax bill decreases, the set amount for adult social care could mean the funding could drain from other services.
When it’s about the report from IFS, it suggests a fully centralized system as a potential solution, which would ‘fully insulate the adult social care from the changes in the local tax revenues.’ With the careful assessment of local needs and strong partnerships with the local council, the central government could figure out an exact idea of spending that is needed.
Now it’s your turn to analyze and state what is the best route for adult social care spending in England? Do we need to completely centralize it, devolve it, or combine the two for the better?