THE figures on the scale of the social care funding crisis facing our councils speak for themselves.

In North Yorkshire, 42 per cent of the county council’s budget is spent on social care for older people and vulnerable adults.

In Darlington, the borough council dedicates 62 per cent of its budget to social care for adults and children.

Authorities have come up with various schemes to try and improve the efficiency of their services and reduce the demand where possible, but without a more profound rethink, councils are going to be left paying for little else in future.

When faced with a choice between paying for the care of some of the most vulnerable people in society, or allocating funds elsewhere, it is completely right that councils choose the humanitarian option.

But where does that leave other services such as education, or economic development, to name but two?

The adult social care precept on council tax brought in two years ago is a sticking plaster fix, so it is understandable that new proposals for a social care premium have been widely welcomed by local authorities as a more long-term solution.

How popular the measure would be among the over 40, retirees and employers eligible to pay it remains to be seen. Much will depend on the government’s forthcoming green paper, but one thing is clear – the system as it is now cannot continue.