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Care act Reforms Underline Growing cost Burdens on Councils

December 2, 2015

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Fresh concerns were raised over the provision and funding of public services in a new Report from Committee of Public Accounts.

This Report follows the Committee’s inquiry into the implementation of the first phase of the Care Act, which means additional cost burdens on local councils.

The Committee is of the opinion that "carers and the people they care for may not get the services they need because of continuing reductions to local authority budgets and demand for care being so uncertain".

It is concerned the New Burdens Doctrine - the Government’s promise to fund and assess additional costs for local authorities from heralding new powers, duties and other government-initiated changes – does not guarantee funding for significant new costs.

The Government "has not been sufficiently open and transparent" in classifying new burdens, creating "considerable uncertainty" for councils the Committee said. Government response times when councils run into difficulties implementing the Act was another concern expressed.

The Report says "The Care Act is one new area of work for local authorities which will add significant costs locally. Government must recognise this and ensure funding is monitored as it beds in so that carers and the people they care for do not lose out."

The Committee’s recommendations to Government include:

Measures to ensure effective implementation of the Act and; To ensure councils "have sufficient resources to meet their statutory duties".

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, said:

"The Care Act should mean carers get proper support from local councils, but with budgets squeezed this support will be hard for councils to deliver.

“Local government is taking on more and more responsibilities from central government, but the money does not always follow. The concept of ‘new burdens’ is simple enough yet the Government’s definition of these burdens fails to reflect reality.

“If new costs to councils are not adequately funded then services will suffer. There is also a real danger of cost-shunting – in this instance, costs of providing care falling on other public services, carers or the people being cared for.

“This is an issue of concern to the Committee across public services and we will continue to monitor how the Government funds local government." 

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