The system designed to look after elderly people across the county is at crisis point and must be addressed, Essex County Council leader David Finch has said.
With the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, due to give his first Autumn Statement later this month, Cllr Finch has called on him to make social care funding a priority.
The call comes following reports from the Care Quality Commission and various think tanks that suggest social care is facing a crisis nationally.
The cost of Social Care
Cllr Finch said: “In Essex we currently spend more than £1million a day on Adult Social Care. This figure is increasing, and at the same time we are seeing a rapid increase in the older population.
“Over 85s currently make up more than 51% of users in adult social care. Over the next 10 years this will grow by 50 per cent, and in 20 years’ time, the current budget would be completely taken up by over 85s alone.”
But while the older population continues to rise, according to Age UK, spending on social care has fallen by £770 million since 2010.
Council Tax rises not a long term solution
Last year saw the Government allow councils to implement a two per cent ‘social care levy’ on to Council Tax bills to help address the funding issue, but this is not seen as a long term solution.
Cllr Finch added: “In Essex this additional money equated to £11million – two weeks cover - and does not even cover the cost of the new national living wage which was also implemented.
“This does little to address what is a national issue which is now at crisis point.”
The asks of Government
Writing to the Chancellor, Cllr Finch has outlined three asks of the Government:
- Bring forward the Better Care Funding planned for 2020. A pot of money already approved by Government, this could provide much needed social care investment now.
- Protect investment into public health and reverse £160 million of public health savings planned for the next two years. These savings create a false economy and will lead to greater pressures on the NHS.
- Give Councils clarity on any future planned reforms, enabling them to plan for the future.
Cllr Finch said: “We hear little from Government in terms of the importance of addressing the social care challenge, but it is one of our biggest health sectors - the care industry employs more than 1.5 million people across the UK - more than the NHS.
“And importantly, the ongoing strain on the system means with Social Care at breaking point, there is a knock on impact on the cost to the NHS through delayed discharges, which are on the increase.
“There is also the cost to the economy of people dropping out of work to care for relatives, estimated nationally at some £1.3 billion a year through foregone taxes and benefits for carers.
“This is the biggest challenge we face and an area that we need to be an absolute priority for the chancellor.”