MPs launch inquiry into adult social care funding

MPs have launched an inquiry into the financial sustainability of adult social care and the quality of services provided by local authorities.

The Communities & Local Government Select Committee will examine whether available funding is sufficient for councils to fulfil their statutory obligations under the Care Act to assess and meet the needs of people requiring care and support.

The inquiry will cover all adult social care provided by local authorities, not just support given to older people.

It will look at the role of carers in providing care, their relationship with local authorities and whether there is adequate funding to meet their needs.

In addition, the inquiry will examine the progress made by councils and the NHS in integrating health and social care, alternative funding models for financing and providing care and innovations in delivery, such as the use of digital technology.

Written submissions are invited these issues, along with evidence on the impact of the 2015 Spending Review and Local Government Finance Settlement, including the two per cent council tax precept, the Better Care Fund and the National Living Wage. The deadline for submissions is 19 August.

Committee chair Clive Betts MP said: "Adult social care provides a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable people in society but is coming under increasing pressure as a result of growing demand and declining local authority budgets.

"Our inquiry will look at the financial sustainability of this care and support to see what can be done to allow councils to continue to meet their legal obligations for future generations."

The Local Government Association welcomed the inquiry, saying the committee is right to "shine a light" on the urgent issue of funding.

"We are in real danger of a crisis in social care, with councils', providers' and carers' ability to support our loved ones and ensure they live the dignified and independent life they deserve undermined by severe funding pressures," community wellbeing spokeswoman Cllr Izzi Seccombe said.

"The growing demand of an ageing population, as well as the increasing costs following the introduction of the National Living Wage, are squeezing care home and domiciliary care providers to the point of collapse. On top of this, councils are starting from an unstable foundation, having had to close a £5bn funding gap over the past five years.

"The importance of adult social care was acknowledged by the Government in its decision to allow councils to raise council tax by two per cent to pay for adult social care, although it is likely that for many authorities this won't be sufficient to meet all the cost and demand pressures, particularly the cost of the National Living Wage.

"This is why the LGA is calling for the £700m Better Care Fund money earmarked for the end of the decade to be brought forward to 2016-17 to help alleviate growing social care pressures."