The Local Government Authority has launched a bid to forge a cross-party consensus around implementing the findings of the Dilnot Commission into funding social care.
The organisation has sent a strongly worded letter to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband urging them to throw their weight behind the commission’s capped-cost model. It says councils will help to make the policy affordable.
The move comes amid concerns that the government will not adopt the Dilnot report’s recommendations, which would cost an estimated £1.7bn.
In the letter, LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell (Con), warns that delaying the “radical reform” of social care funding would have “dangerous” consequences.
The letter says senior LGA members and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services “unanimously agreed that the proposals set out by Andrew Dilnot’s Commission on Funding of Care and Support offer the only real solution to securing sustainable funding for care”.
It also says the LGA is planning to “set out what local government can do to make Dilnot affordable, workable and well understood by those who would determine its success at a local level”.
But one source close to the development of the white paper told HSJ’s sister magazine Local Government Chronicle: “My impression from speaking to people in the Treasury is that the department does not see social care reform as important enough to focus on, and it is prepared to take a kicking for not doing it. Civil servants in the Department of Health are pessimistic about the prospect of reform.”
Sir Merrick argues in a column for LGC that the reform of adult social care “is one of the biggest challenges this country is facing, and none of us can go on ducking the issue any longer.”
He says that alongside reform, the government must also address the shortfall in funding for social care.
It is believed that the LGA has not yet put together detailed proposals about how councils could help to make the Dilnot proposals affordable, but will consider whether to recommend introducing a means test for home care recipients.
The organisation also sees potential savings from a greater focus on integration and prevention as a way of funding the Dilnot proposals.
Richard Humphries, a senior fellow at the King’s Fund, said the means test for home care was the most obvious way in which councils could help to make the Dilnot proposals affordable, but politicians would not accept it.
“It would be a toxic issue, especially after the controversy around the ‘granny tax’ in the budget,” he said.
Mr Humphries said he expected the Queen’s Speech, due to take place on 9 May, to include plans for new legislation on social care, but that it was unlikely that the government would make “significant new funding” available for this.
Instead, he said, the new legislation was likely to include some of the proposals in the Law Commission’s report on social care reform, published in May 2011. These included strengthening parent carers’ rights to an assessment of their needs and promoting co-operation between local authorities when individuals that receive care move to a different area.