Local authorities could be allowed to make a further increase in council tax to pay for social care. Ministers in England are discussing ways to invest more money into care services for the elderly and disabled. One option is to let them increase council tax beyond the extra 2% for which they already have permission, while another is bringing forward extra money they have been promised in 2019. It comes as fewer people are getting help from local authorities. Older people’s services – representing the bulk of care – have been particularly badly hit. Spending has fallen by 9% in real terms over the past five years with local government blaming cuts to their funding from central government. The result has been an even larger drop – of over a quarter – in the numbers getting help in care homes, nursing homes and in their own homes for daily tasks such as washing and dressing. It has meant growing numbers having to go without help or pay for their own care – councils fund services only for the poorest, with those with assets of more than £23,250 expected to pay the full cost of care themselves. Regulators have warned these cuts have started adding to pressures in the NHS with A&E units said to be bearing the brunt. Old and frail patients are being admitted because of the lack of community support, which is also being blamed for the growing number of delayed discharges – cases where patients are ready to leave hospital but cannot.