BOLTON Council leader Linda Thomas has called on the government to sort out the country’s adult social care funding crisis, saying there needs to be an end to the “sticking plaster solutions” of the past.

A long-delayed report setting out how the government intends to tackle the looming problem was expected in July, but was put back by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

It is now expected in November, although the finer details will not be revealed until the next spending review next spring.

But the Local Government Association (LGA) has launched its own consultation, saying local authorities cannot wait for ministers to get their act together.

And Cllr Thomas who, until recently was the LGA’s Labour lead on adult social care, says councils of all stripes are willing to put their political differences aside to come up with possible solutions to the burgeoning crisis.

She said: “The government said it was going to do a green paper that should have been out last November, and didn’t it feels like they keep kicking it into the long grass.

“So, in desperation we put together an LGA cross-party green paper of our own. It’s not a solution but a consultation paper to all local authorities to say ‘please can you discuss this’. We will all be sending in our comments to the consultation so that by the time the government does start talking about it, the LGA will have a line to say, ‘this is what local government thinks. We’re not waiting for the government to ask “what do you think about”, it’s too important to us.”

Bolton Councillors last week discussed ideas that will be submitted to the LGA’s consultation at a town hall policy development group meeting.

The LGA estimates that adult social care services face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025, while a recent study found the number of over-65s in England in need of round-the-clock care will grow by a third by 2035.

But attempts to head off the crisis have so far foundered. Theresa May was forced into a U-turn at the last election after announcing plans to make those receiving home care liable for the full costs if they had assets of £100,000 or more.

And earlier Labour proposals to introduce a levy on a care recipient’s estates after they died were shelved after being branded “the death tax” by political opponents.

Over the previous two financial years councils have been able to raise council tax by an additional 3 per cent provided the money was ringfenced for adult social care.

Bolton Council included an adult social care precept of 1.8 per cent in 2017/18 and 2 per cent for this current financial year. There was also a one-off grant of £900,000.

But Cllr Thomas says the time has come to end temporary fixes.

She added: “At the LGA we are saying to government, you need to come up with a solution that’s going to be a long term one, not a sticking plaster solution. That might, for a couple of years, give us a little bit of breathing space, but you can’t plan for the long term.”

And while Bolton may not be in the same dire financial straits as bankruptcy-threatened likes of Northamptonshire County Council, finding the money for future demand still presents the authority with a major challenge.

Cllr Thomas said: “Adult social care is the one service that could end up making councils go bankrupt.”

She added: “We have made difficult decisions so we have not put ourselves in that position but the pressure and growing level of need for adult social care is becoming a bigger and bigger proportion of budget.

“Adult social care and looked after children, at the moment, take up just over half the budget, which is a lot when you think of everything else we do, highways, recycling, leisure facilities , swimming baths, libraries, museums, parks – the whole gambit.”

The LGA consultation ends on September 25.