Nottinghamshire County Council warns services could be cut without Government cash support
Nottinghamshire County Council has warned it could reduce its services if Government 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 £90 million 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 (FCC) reform, would see the amount councils pay to agencies rise from about £19 to £23.50 per hour and cost £41.57 million to the county council in extra spending.
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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 £32.75 million to be filled.
Melanie Brooks, corporate director for social care at the council, has written to ministers stating current funding projections ‘will not be sufficient to meet the stated objectives’ for FCC.
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.
Ms Brooks told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “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.”
Coun Matt Barney (Con), portfolio holder for adult social care, believes the prospect of underfunding for the reforms is ‘quite scary’ and joined Ms Brooks in calling for the 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 £90 million 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 £614 million and £743 million 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 receive.
A Department for Health spokesperson said: “Reforming adult social care is a priority and we are investing £5.4 billion over the next three years to end spiralling care costs and support the workforce.”