Advertisement

97% of councils in England tell ITV News council tax hikes will have no impact on social care crisis

More than 90% of councils in England have told ITV News that being allowed to raise council tax has made little or no difference to their ability to provide social care.

Last month the government announced it planned to increase the so-called "social care precept" from 2% to 3%.

But with the crisis surrounding home care deepening, many councils told us its no more than a "sticking plaster".

A survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), commissioned exclusively by ITV News, contacted all 152 councils in England.

They were asked whether permission to increase council tax would make a positive impact on social care in their area. Just 112 responded.

More than a quarter of directors of adult social services said it would make no difference at all and more than two thirds of them said it would make very little difference.

Of the 152 councils asked, only 11 responded. Credit: ITV News

Only three councils agreed the rise would make a substantial difference to their ability to look after residents needing extra help to cope.

Not a single local authority believed raising more tax at a local level offered a complete solution to the crisis.

Councillor Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds City Council, told ITV News the amount raised last year through the 2% rise hadn't even covered the cost of paying carers the increase demanded by the National Living Wage.

She said: "This year alone we are going to have to make savings out of our budget, in spite of the additional money we have got through the precept, of around £9 million.

"That is going to impact on our ability to look after elderly people in the community which will then fuel more people coming in to A&E, so the problem just goes round and round."

John Ransford, Director of HC-One - one of the largest care home providers in the country - told ITV News four out of 5 of their residents were local authority.

He said it was becoming harder and harder to negotiate contracts with local authorities are sources are so stretched.

Ray James, from ADASS, said: "We think this response is woefully inadequate.

"It comes nowhere near the amount of money every independent expert and professional body has suggested is needed.

"We didn't see from Government any publication of how they have satisfied themselves that this was sufficient funding to meet the amount of care and support older and disabled people need and rely on each and every day."

The government has promised an extra £900m. Credit: ITV News

The survey by ITV News follows Surrey County Council's claim last week that it has "no choice" but to raise council tax by 15%.

A local referendum is needed to push through any increase over 3.99%, but the Council insists without more government funding its the only way to provide decent care.

Last year the Local Government Association claimed Treasury funding cuts of 40% over the last five years have left councils facing a £5 billion funding gap.

The government has promised an extra £900m.

Only three councils said raising council tax would help them provide better social care. Credit: ITV News

But it's not new money, instead involving both the changes to council tax and money diverted from the New Homes Bonus fund already allocated to local authorities.

A government spokesman said: "Up to £7.6 billion of dedicated funding is available for social care over four years.

"It's for councils to decide how they use the additional funding and flexibility on offer to make sure the most vulnerable people in our society get the support they need."

For now, the prime minister remains under mounting pressure.

Last month Theresa May pledged to begin a review designed to find a long term solution to the crisis.

But there are still scant details on who will lead it and when and what its expected to deliver.