Failure to reform care for the elderly could force the closure of parks, libraries and public toilets as resources are diverted to "plug the gap" in care funding, the leaders of every major council in England and Wales have warned.
In a letter to the leaders of all three main political parties, local government bosses have urged politicians to commit to reforming funding, saying any loss of momentum would be "dangerous".
The letter, written by Sir Merrick Cockell, the chairman of the Local Government Association, which speaks for almost 400 councils in England and Wales, warns lack of action would exacerbate problems of an "already over-stretched" care system and would have a knock-on effect to other services.
The letter argues: "It will increasingly limit the availability of valuable local discretionary services as resources are drawn away to plug the gap in care funding."
Local discretionary services include parks, libraries, leisure centres, roads and public toilets.
Failing to reach an agreement soon on how to pay for care for the elderly could set a long-term solution back years, the letter cautions.
"For too long we have toyed with adult social care reform and failure to act now may be the failure that tips the system over. Nobody - whether from central or local government, providers, the third sector or the public - wants that to happen so it is incumbent upon us all to bring about real change. This absolutely must include funding and we urge the government to be courageous," it said.
Sir Merrick, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council in London, continues: "We need a solution which includes fair funding and gives individuals' peace of mind; but that also takes account of the Law Commission report and makes the system simpler."
The letter also calls for improved efficiency in reform, including pooled budgets to provide further benefits for individuals. "Only by looking at the whole picture and bringing all these strands together will we be able to reform the system to secure the transparency and stability that is so desperately needed," the letter says.
Sir Merrick asks the Government to commit to capping the amount people will have to pay for their elderly care and working to ensure it is successfully implemented..