ONLY around two thirds of councils are confident of being able to meet all their legal duties under the Care Act by next year (2025/26) – a decade after the Government introduced landmark legislation designed to improve access to vital care and support.

This is despite eight in 10 councils forecasting having to cut spending on other community services – such as parks, libraries and leisure – in a bid to try and protect care services, according to a survey of councillors published by the Local Government Association on 14 May, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Care Act receiving Royal Assent. This follows years of significant underfunding of adult social care services.

The Act pulled together a patchwork of legislation on adult social care built up since 1948 placing duties on councils, including the need to focus on people’s wellbeing and ensure the provision of preventative services. However, the Act has coincided with a rise in people needing to draw on care and support and cuts to council funding that has left councils under increasing pressure to do more with less.

The LGA’s new report – The Care Act 2014: Ten years on from Royal Assent – lays bare that the biggest issues facing adult social care are greater than just severe funding shortages. Responding councillors also pointed to challenges around recruiting and retaining the care workforce, more people with more complex needs and an inability to invest in preventative services to help people live independent lives and avoid the need for more acute care.

The LGA is calling for immediate investment in adult social care to tackle the urgent issues affecting services, alongside a long-term care workforce plan.

Ahead of a General Election, the LGA said all parties need to end the politicisation of adult social care, put the national interest first, and work on a cross-party basis at relevant points to secure the future of care and support so that people can live the life they want to lead.

Cllr David Fothergill, social care spokesperson for the LGA said: “The Care Act was a beacon of hope for those needing care and support but this hope has faded. A decade on, people are still facing long waiting times for assessments and support, and not getting the full care and support they need.

“We are at a critical point, for people who draw on care, councils and the sector. Councils are doing all they can to ensure they meet their duties under the Care Act – including cutting spending on other neighbourhood services – but many still fear they will not be able to over the coming years.

“This simply isn’t good enough. It isn’t good enough for people who draw on care and support and it isn’t good enough for the care workers who work incredibly hard for very little financial reward. Adult social care needs urgent attention. This must be top of the in-tray for any incoming government.”

* Read: The Care Act 2014: Ten years on from Royal Assent here.

* Source: Local Government Association