Reforming the Precept: A stepping-stone to sustainable care

Reforming the Precept

The ‘social care precept’ represents a major innovation in financing public expenditure on care in England. This report analyses its strengths, weaknesses, and its future.

Major changes in how the state finances adult social care in England are under way.

The introduction of the ‘social care precept’ represents the first time councils have been given specific tax-raising powers for social care, and creates a much closer link between taxation and public expenditure on care.

However, the precept has been criticised in some quarters for raising inadequate funds, distributional concerns and for introducing ‘hypothecation’ into council tax revenue for social care.

More broadly, the precept has been introduced at the same time that the government is fundamentally restructuring the entire system of local government funding in England, based on the retention of business rates revenue.

This report, made possible by the support of Bupa UK, situates the social care precept in the context of the funding challenges confronting the care system, and reform of local government finance.

Building on the analysis in this paper, a number of concluding messages for policymakers are made:

  • Local authorities still confront significant shortfalls in budgets for adult social care despite the precept, which the government must address
  • The precept cannot be maintained forever in its current form, and policymakers will have to look again at its design
  • The government must track how precept revenue is being used by councils
  • The precept creates an opportunity for a long-term, sustainable solution to financing social care in England building on the progress it represents

You can download a copy of the report here:

Reforming the Precept: A stepping-stone to sustainable care

Author: James Lloyd, Director, Strategic Society Centre

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