The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked the Government to review the impact of the National Living Wage (NLW) on social care in the UK by November 2016.
The PAC published a report which found that personal care budgets were not being consistently given to community care users despite the Care Act 2014 requiring all service users to have such budgets in place. The variety of use ranged from 10% in some areas to full compliance in others.
There is the suggestion that funding cuts could be partly to blame for this lack of compliance with the statutory provision for personal care budgets. The NLW impact review will give the Government half a year to assess what impact if any the wage rise will have had.
The report calls into question the complicated system of personal care budgets which overlaps at times with personal independence payments and disability living allowance. Combined with this is the inability to merge personal health budgets with the personal care budgets as the former is not means-tested and the latter is.
The Government position states that it has already provided additional fees in the ability to raise additional funds up to £3.5 million/year through council tax social care provisions.
The funding gap has been estimated to be anything up to £4.3bn by 2020 by the Local Government Association, this will have an impact on how personal care budgets are administered.
Councillor Izzi Seccombe, community wellbeing spokesperson for the LGA said: –
“Despite the financial pressures faced by local authorities, councils and their partners aspire to see that people’s needs and wishes remain central to their care.
Satisfaction with care and support remains high, and councils continue to learn from each other about how to deliver innovative and personalised services. But to really ensure that individuals receive the care they need and deserve, we need social care to be properly funded by government”
The key consideration should always be the needs and wishes of the person in receipt of social care; ideally financial considerations such as a higher base wage to carers should not impact on the level of care delivered. Hopefully the impact on delivery of social care will be minimised as much as possible in the months to come.