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Is the Care Act Failing

Posted June 8, 2016

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Is the Care Act Failing

Following its introduction last year, many are asking “Is the Care Act Failing”. When it came into force last year, the Care Act was billed as possibly the most significant piece of social care legislation in over 60 years. FoI (Freedom of Information) requests made by the charity Revitalise show that, far from improving care for disabled people and carers, the Act seems to have made things worse.

More than half of LAs have reduced spending on disabled people

In the year since the Care Act came into force, on 1 April 2015, 55% of local authorities spent less on support for disabled people than in the previous year, with an overall £397 million decrease in spending.

One of the principles of the Act is a legal right for all disabled people and carers to have their support needs assessed. Almost half (48%) of local authorities carried out an average of 22% fewer assessments in the past year.

Warnings from councils and the National Audit Office ignored

Nobody can really pretend to be surprised that local authorities are failing to implement the Care Act properly: they have been warning since before the legislation came into force that they didn’t have the funds to make it work. Last year, the NAO (National Audit Office) also warned that the Department of Health had underestimated the cost of the Act for local authorities. 86% of them warn that they will face serious financial problems in the next three years.

Despite the social care precept (a 2% increase in council tax bills which may be charged specifically to pay for social care costs), councils have nowhere near the resources they need. Factors including an increase in the ageing population, inflation and the impact of the National Living Wage are all exerting more financial pressure on local authorities.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has asked the government to bring forward £700 million from the Better Care Fund, which is scheduled to be paid in 2017/18, but is urgently required now.