The government has confirmed plans to allow English local authorities to raise council tax bills by an extra 6% over the next two years to pay for social care.
The proposals, announced by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, give councils the power to add a 3% levy to bills in 2017/18, and an additional 3% in 2018/19.
Social care funding has fallen by 9% in real terms over the past five years, with local government blaming it on the cuts in their funding from central government. Yet, councils have warned that even if every local authority imposed the maximum extra levy, social care will still face a funding gap of at least £2.6bn by 2020.
Responding to the news, Pearl Roberts from Agilisys Care commented that digital could be the perfect medicine when it comes to curing the social care budget deficit: “As we are seeing across other public services, digital provision has the power to deliver changes quickly and cost-effectively.
“An online approach can provide an effective means to maximise the use of limited public funds. Digital social care solutions can enable citizens to understand, fulfil and manage their needs in a simple-to-access format, empowering them to determine their requirements, plan their support and choose the care package that meets their needs, all through a single point of access.”
Pearl continued: “At the same time this can significantly reduce the cost of social care assessments, support planning and care commissioning, while providing measurable improvements to the citizen’s experience. Digital solutions can also be configured and easily reconfigured to ensure they meet new and emerging legislative requirements. With an increased focus on self-service solutions, and less budget required to implement these, digital solutions will ensure councils are better placed to react and respond to demand.
“While careful planning, integration and resources are required to define, design and implement digital social care strategies, there are real and measurable benefits to be realised in the long term. This will result in tangible cost savings, process efficiencies and joined-up service provision, as well as ensuring provision of care for those most in need.”
Central government and the wider public sector given access to pre-evaluated suppliers of IT testing services
The Dorset Care Record (DCR) will integrate information from local GPs, hospitals, community teams and local councils
Officers from Surrey and Sussex Police Forces are now using specialist mobile technology to improve frontline policing and reporting
The potential to improve outcomes by putting the citizen at the heart of how digital solutions are designed is significant