Theresa May ‘to raise council tax’ to address social care crisis
Theresa May is reportedly set to lift a government ban on large council tax rises in an attempt to plug a hole in social care funding.
The Government has faced widespread calls to address the crisis in the social care system amid warnings from health professionals it is at tipping point.
Chancellor Philip Hammond also came under fire for not providing extra money for health or social care in his Autumn Statement last month.
The Times reports that Mrs May is expected to relax a law that prevents councils from increasing the local levy by 4% or more unless they hold local referendums.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is reportedly set to give local councils the right to increase the so-called "precept" at a faster rate when he unveil this year’s town hall funding package, expected within days.
“We know that this isn’t going to be enough but it’s a first step,” a senior Whitehall figure told the Times. “Be in no doubt everyone across government is well aware that this is a major issue that needs urgent attention.”
Former chancellor George Osborne previously introduced a social care "precept" that allows councils to charge up to an extra 2% on council tax bills in order to fund social care services.
It comes as the chief executive of Care England warned that rising demand, cuts to public spending and rising staffing costs have turned the social care system into a “house of cards”.
Martin Green told the Times: “The whole thing could topple over at any moment and those who are poor and vulnerable will suffer most.”
Chief inspector for social care Andrea Sutcliffe said: “The system is approaching a tipping point. We’ve got increased demand and potentially a restriction on capacity. Unless we really get to grips with some of these problems... we will get to an absolute crisis.”
An investigation by the Times also found that 250 residential care homes have closed since March, while 5,000 beds lost over the last 18 months.
In October the Care Quality Commission warned social care services in England are reaching a "tipping point" due to funding cuts and an ageing population.