From October 2023, reforms to protect people from catastrophic care costs and make more people eligible for state support with their care costs come into force. These include a more generous means-test and a cap on care costs of £86,000 – two policies which are supported by the County Councils Network (CCN).
But the CCN warns that the system is under serious pressure currently, with councils facing a ‘perfect storm’ of financial and workforce pressures that mean the government should push back their introduction to October 2024.
The call comes in a new report released today by the CCN. The document is Point Three of the network’s Five Point Plan for County and Unitary Councils, designed to influence the policies of the new government.
CCN says loading extra pressure on an already-teetering system to prepare for the introduction of the cap on care and means-test over the next 12 months could worsen services by impacting on the availability and quality of care packages.
They say that inflation is set to add £3.7bn of additional costs to existing services by 2023, whilst councils face a workforce crisis at present with thousands of vacancies unfilled. CCN warn councils will not be able to recruit an estimated extra 5,000 staff over the next 12 months to undertake an additional 197,000 care and financial assessments needed, which is a 45% increase on current levels. This level of extra demand will create longer waits for care packages, as at present there is a waiting list of almost 300,000.
With the Health Secretary Therese Coffey promising to ‘rebalance’ funding between health and social care, CCN is calling on the government to ‘stabilise’ the social care sector by focusing on existing pressures and providing more funding for services to get through the next year, before introducing reforms in 2024.
The Rural Services Network endorses this report by the County Council Network. We published research along with the CCN focusing on The State of Care in County and Rural Areas which can be accessed at this link.
The growing older population in rural areas places significant demands on the delivery of social care services and Government must understand the challenges facing rural communities and take steps to address them.
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