09 Jun 2024
by Policy, Practice and Innovation Team

The Local Government Association has produced a White Paper, ahead of the General Election, that warns councils in England now face a funding gap of £6.2 billion over the next two years.

The gap is caused by the rising cost and demand for adult social care, children's services, homelessness support and home-to-school transport for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Among the LGA’s recommendations are a call for the reform of adult social care, to ensure it is adequately funded and addresses the issue of care workers’ pay. LGA suggest one-off increases and retention bonuses, with an independent review in the longer term to make pay recommendations (accompanied by the requisite national funding from government).

LGA say councils and the NHS need to work better together to support people in need, with a focus on prevention and recovery services, including support for the voluntary sector.

In the short-term, LGA calls for: 

  • Adult social care to be funded adequately, sustainably and with trust in councils as democratically accountable bodies. The exact funding requirement should be identified through a collaborative process, but LGA broadly support the Health Foundation’s analysis. 
  • Support for the voluntary sector, which can mobilise quickly and provide access to an additional workforce. Services such as ‘sitting services’, unpaid carer support, handyperson services, and home from hospital services.
  • Support for unpaid carers. LGA say too many are suffering ‘burnout’ and the labour market is losing too many people who have to give up work to care.
  • More therapeutic-led reablement – intensive short-term interventions with follow-up support – which support recovery after time spent in hospital.
  • Increased care worker pay – including one-off increases and/or retention bonuses – to help tackle the serious recruitment and retention issues facing the sector. The costs for any such increases must be met in full by genuinely new funding from government.
  • Robust commissioning arrangements to ensure that the commissioning system does not create two tier systems and lead to disagreements between councils, the NHS and the care sector.

In the longer-term:

  • Joint work with government to reform the approach to adult social care, and better joint working between the NHS and local government to support people.
  • Focus on prevention and recovery services, including steps to support the voluntary sector to provide fast, low-level support.
  • Investment in primary and community services and intermediate care that is multidisciplinary and can resolve crises in health and care, avoiding hospital admission and helping people back on their feet.
  • Tackling the long-standing issue of care worker pay through the commission of an independent review to make recommendations (that are accompanied by the requisite national funding from government) on the levels of pay in the sector and how pay, terms and conditions are determined.

The LGA is to undertake a significant programme of work to take forward the ideas in the White Paper, including publishing new research, talking to political parties and setting out specific actions for the early days of the new Parliament.

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