The government’s plans to create a national standard for social care eligibility could place unfunded new burdens on councils and lead to an increase in legal challenges, ministers have been warned.

The claim - reported by HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle - came in a response to a consultation on the government’s plans, from the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.

In the document, the organisations voiced support for the notion of a national standard, but added that “anecdotal evidence” suggested the government’s definition of eligibility would be more generous than the standard used by most councils.

“Should the new threshold indeed prove to be more generous when applied locally then we can expect more people to be eligible for services,” they said.

“This would carry an obvious cost implication beyond the amount the government has provisionally budgeted for.”

The government has so far allowed £23m to cover the change in the threshold, but this is designed only to allow the three councils whose thresholds are set at “critical” rather than “substantial” – the standard on which the new definition is based – to lower their thresholds.

Also in the consultation response, the groups questionned the government’s claim that its care reforms would reduce the number of complaints about care.

“Certainly in the short to medium term there is real potential for increased challenge and appeals,” they said.

This was because the new eligibility standard would take on extra importance because it would be the basis for deciding whether an individual’s care payments counted towards the new £72,000 cap on care costs, they said.

Read the full response.