Without an urgent financial injection from the government, a 10 percent increase in the council tax would be necessary just to allow social welfare to “stand still”, according to a new analysis.
In a strong warning to Rishi Sunak ahead of the fortnightly autumn spending review, Age UK said the Chancellor’s decisions “will determine whether welfare continues to wither and die”.
The money the government is looking to raise from an increase in national insurance will mainly go to the NHS over the next three years, with the charity adding that this will leave welfare “desperately under budget”.
At the Conservative Party convention, Mr. Sunak decided not to further increase the council’s tax laws to pay for welfare – a problem Boris Johnson promised to “fix”.
Age UK, calling on central government to provide the funding, agreed with the recent view of the Health and Social Welfare Selection Board that annual welfare funds must increase by £ 3.9 billion by 2023-24.
According to the charity’s own analysis, council tax would need to be increased 10 percent over the next year if Mr Sunak tries to fill the loopholes by allowing authorities to raise the bills to raise £ 3.3 billion.
The organization also warns that the amount of cash raised will be “very unequal” across the country and has stepped up the “zip code lottery which is already affecting welfare”.
Age UK Charity Director Caroline Abrahams said, “In the interests of millions of elderly and disabled people, welfare needs a huge additional cash injection now and for years to come – but it should come from the central government, not the massive hike in council taxes.
“Our new analysis shows that even if you let locals pay a whopping 10 percent in council tax – on top of the 19 percent average increase we’ve seen in recent years – all the money for welfare still isn’t there needs.”
She added, “Social welfare is too important to too many people for their fate to depend on local politics and local tax bases.”
An earlier analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that council tax may have to rise to close the black hole in the care system, claiming authorities will face nearly £ 8 billion additional cost pressures by 2024/5 – “Just to keep important local services at today’s level”.
And last week the Institute for Government, a well-respected think tank, said the sector needed billions of pounds more and significant increases in council taxes.
Ms. Abrahams added: “The stakes couldn’t be higher: be [Mr Sunak’s] Decisions will determine whether welfare continues to wither, stand still, or, more optimistically, get stronger over the next three years.
“It was the Prime Minister who promised to bring dignity to older people later in life with his social reforms – a fantastic goal – but now it is the Chancellor above all who decides whether we will make progress or not. ”