Council chiefs warn care guidance burdens ‘overstretched staff’

By William Eichler | 28 March 2022

Local authority leaders have criticised the Government’s new social care funding guidance which requires overstretched councils to produce ‘detailed’ market sustainability plans.

The Government has published guidance intended to support local authorities in administering the Market Sustainability and Fair Cost of Care Fund. Announced in December, the fund amounts to £1.36bn.

As part of the new guidance, local authorities are required to produced provisional market sustainability plans and a spend report detailing how funding allocated for 2022 to 2023 is being spent in line with the fund’s purpose.

In response to the announcement of the guidance, the Local Government Association (LGA) warned that social care funding falls short of what is needed and that these plans are likely to place ‘additional burdens on already overstretched staff’.

Cllr David Fothergill, chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘Social care has been facing problems regarding instability and unsustainability within the market for a number of years, and it’s good to see recognition of this from the Government with this plan.

‘However, we believe that the funding allocated falls far short of needs, and will not fully resource councils and providers in delivering the Government’s objectives. Providing detailed market sustainability plans will place additional burdens on already overstretched staff, who in some cases are already struggling to deliver statutory services.

‘With funding allocations unknown for years two and three of the time period, councils and providers will be hampered in securing the longer-term certainty that they have called for for so long.

‘Adult social care is facing a funding gap for current services, increasing each year due to inflation and other costs even with these reforms fully funded. This is without considering the immediate need to address unmet and under met need on these overburdened systems.

‘Without adequate funding, some councils will face a battle to balance budgets, worsening existing pressures and running the serious risk of impacts on the ability to deliver timely and quality care to those who draw on it.’

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