The chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association, Steve Thomas, has stated that increases in social care costs may lead to the local councils being forced to combine.
Mr Thomas states that the landscape of the rising cost of social care is set against decreasing council budgets. Last week the Welsh government injected an additional £10m per year into the social care sector much of which will be used to help pay for the additional funding required to meet the National Living Wage.
Commenting on the position of local councils, Mr Thomas said:-
“Authorities will struggle if the current prognosis in terms of finance continues. There are huge pressures, not least of all on health and social care. Social care costs will double in the next 15 years. Active consideration of either mergers of authorities or at least merger of services will be commonplace in the next period.”
The main driving force behind merging councils is presumably the benefits that flow from economies of scale which may result in job losses and will reduce the cost of councils performing their daily duties. Some may say that efficiencies should be sought out where possible to reduce the cost burden on central government. Social services are the second most costly service within local councils in Wales, it supports 125,000 vulnerable people with 70,000 employees. Providers of social care argue that the costs that are paid by councils, even if increased by the advent of the National Living Wage, still fail to meet the true cost of care.