In the Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto, there was a plan to reform the care system for the over-65s and introduce a cap on costs. Despite the Tories’ working majority, there has been little action on the issue and the proposals have been put on hold. Meanwhile the care system has come under increased pressure as a result of an ageing population, with the Local Government Association predicting social care faces a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020.
In last month’s Autumn Statement, social care was notably absent. Philip Hammond’s plans to address the problem were blocked by No. 10 over concerns an announcement on extra funding would jar with Theresa May’s pledge to help the ‘just about managing’ families. Today the issue was pushed to the forefront with The Times reporting that May is planning to drop her opposition and back rises to council tax bills in an effort to address the ‘absolute crisis’. This could see local authorities given the ability to increase council tax beyond the extra 2pc, which they already have permission for, in order to raise money for social care.
While No.10 refused to confirm the plans, the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman went on the offensive and suggested that under-performing councils were partly to blame. However, even if one buys the premise that funding is only one part of the problem, there’s evidence to suggest the proposals still wouldn’t fix the financial black hole. The King’s Fund suggests a council tax levy would be ‘deeply flawed’ and ‘barely make a dent’ in fixing the social care funding crisis.