Adult social care services could be reduced by Nottinghamshire County Council
Nottinghamshire County Council could reduce its services if ministers don’t provide enough money to fund upcoming reforms in adult social care.
The Conservative-led council says it could face a black hole of as much as £90m in the coming years as the government pushes ahead with significant changes to the way social care is funded.
The reforms, due to begin next year, include a lifetime cap of £86,000 on someone’s care costs and a significant uplift in the amount local authorities pay care agencies in hourly rates.
The shift in hourly rates, which come as part of the Fair Cost of Care reform, would see the amount councils pay to agencies rise from about £19 to £23.50 per hour and cost £41.57m to the county council in extra spending.
But concerns have been raised over this reform after estimates from Government funding formulas found the council could receive just £8.82m in Whitehall support – leaving a gap of £32.75m to be filled.
Melanie Brooks, corporate director for social care at Nottinghamshire County Council, has written to ministers stating current funding projections would not be sufficient to meet the stated objectives for Fair Cost of Care.
And now she has revealed councillors could consider not funding other areas if the Government doesn’t offer more financial support to the authority.
Council services that could face cuts include schools, roads and waste management.
Melanie Brooks said: “If the government doesn’t offer more financial support, members would need to consider actions which may include funding reform requirements and not funding other areas.
“Councillors could also decide not to fully implement the reforms and risk disadvantaging residents, or go for a combination of both. The council would need to consider its approach.
“As a council, we face significant workforce and inflationary pressures that mean funding this type of work very difficult in reality.”
Concerns over the reforms are not limited specifically to Nottinghamshire County Council, with estimates from the County Councils Network suggesting Fair Cost of Care will cost East Midlands councils £802m over the next decade.
Matt Barney, portfolio holder for adult social care, believes the prospect of underfunding for the reforms is quite scary.
Speaking to cabinet members in July’s meeting, he said a potential £90m funding gap could lead to the council doing away with some other cabinet members’ portfolios.
And he has joined Melanie Brooks in calling for his own Conservative government to provide detail of its funding plans.
He said: “We’ve got to be transparent about the situation we face, which is enormously significant when you get to the detail of this. It’s potentially quite scary stuff.
“The numbers are huge – for this authority we’re potentially talking about perhaps a £90m shortfall in our funding.
“At that point, we’d be talking about which cabinet members’ portfolios we’re going to do away with because it’s very significant. It wouldn’t be education or health, I’m sure, but that’s why we’re flagging it.
“The money is there but the detail of how it comes forward needs to come.”
Other projections for the East Midlands include between £614m and £743m over a decade for the £86,000 care cap reform and the creation of 221 care workers and 45 financial assessor roles to bring forward the changes.
The government has allocated funding pots for the reforms, but local authorities are yet to be told exactly how much they will directly receive.
A Department for Health spokesman said: “Reforming adult social care is a priority and we are investing £5.4bn over the next three years to end spiralling care costs and support the workforce.
“This includes £3.6bn to reform the social care charging system and enable all local authorities to move towards paying providers a fair cost of care, and a further £1.7bn to begin major improvements across adult social care in England, funded by the Health and Social Care Levy.
“Our investment via the levy is on top of record annual funding to help councils respond to rising demands and cost pressures.”