Downing Street hints at funding boost for social care systems
"Under threat" social care systems in certain areas of England are set to receive a funding boost from the Government, Downing Street has indicated.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid will announce on Thursday measures to help areas where social care provision is facing "severe pressures".
It comes after town hall chiefs said they had discussed proposals with ministers to increase council tax bills in England to fill a black hole in funding for adult social care which could otherwise reach £2.6 billion by 2020.
Theresa May's official spokeswoman said the issue provoked the "lengthiest discussion" among ministers at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.
They agreed that the "long-running" issue needs medium and long-term solutions and that "money alone won't fix the problem", the spokeswoman said.
She went on: "There was a discussion about the variation in provision, differentiation between councils were highlighted, and the need to recognise that it is possible to provide high quality social care within existing budgets if reform was followed through.
"But also agreement that in some areas the ability to provide social care for local communities is under threat and Thursday's announcement on the local government finance settlement will address this issue while making clear the need for reform.
"The PM emphasised the importance of finding a long-term, sustainable way of addressing the issue."
Asked whether councils in under-pressure areas would be given the freedom to increase the 2% "social care precept" charge on council tax, the spokeswoman said: "I suggest you wait for Thursday's announcement."
It comes after Tory former pensions minister Baroness Altmann said funding for Britain's "Third World" social care system should be prioritised over the foreign aid budget.
The call was echoed by Tory MPs Philip Davies and Peter Bone, who urged a rethink on the commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid while the elderly at home are in need.
The comments came as a law firm said a growing number of ageing parents are signing legal documents effectively stating they would rather die than see "excessive" care home fees plunder their children's inheritance.
And Chancellor Philip Hammond denied the Prime Minister blocked him from announcing new funds for social care in last month's Autumn Statement.
The Daily Mail quoted Lady Altmann as saying: "The needs of our vulnerable elderly must come first before prioritising the needs of people elsewhere.
"It is important for us to be a global leader in helping poverty-stricken and Third World countries - but what we mustn't forget is that we have the equivalent of poverty-stricken and Third World social care here."
Paul Gotch, a lawyer with JMW Solicitors, said concerns over care costs were raised by nearly all the firm's clients this year who signed lasting power of attorney documents.
He said: "Without doubt, the most common theme in discussions is a desire to refuse prospective treatment should they become incapacitated because they realise how the costs of care could drastically affect the amounts which they can pass on to their families.
"It amounts to a declaration that they would rather end their lives than become a financial burden to their loved ones."
Labour has accused the Government of unfairly "dumping" the funding crisis on council tax-payers and demanded to know why ministers had not "fought harder to get extra, vital funding for social care" in the Autumn Statement.