Responding to publication of the Local Government Finance Settlement, Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said:
“The measures to reduce long-term financial uncertainty for councils are welcome, but this settlement providers no new answers to the outstanding question of the social care funding black hole.
“Local councils spend more than a third of their budgets on social care for the elderly and disabled, and the government needs to provide frank answers on how we are going to pay for social care in the future.
“The measures announced in the Spending Review were just not enough to plug the predicted £4.3bn funding gap in social care budgets by 2020. And this settlement does nothing to relieve the pressure on councils.
“In devolving income-generation to councils, it also raises the serious concern of an increasingly fragmented social care system in England, with even more of a ‘postcode lottery’ as to whether frail and elderly people get the care and support they need.”
On the proposals to devolve Attendance Allowance to local authorities:
“The principle of devolving attendance allowance to councils is a good one. It makes little sense to have two entirely separate systems, one local and one national, for assessing and meeting older people's care needs.
“But the devil will be in the detail. The government will have to dispel the suspicion that, rather than being a farsighted way of joining up services, this is simply a move to plug gaps in the budgets of cash-strapped councils.
“To do that it will have to show that councils will use Attendance Allowance as what it should be: an early intervention to cover the additional costs of disability to an individual and help prevent or delay their care needs from getting worse.
“That in turn will mean giving a cast iron guarantee that Attendance Allowance will not become means tested and will continue to be available to all older people with disabilities, irrespective of income.”