Council leaders from the Local Government Association (LGA) have said the winter health crisis should incentivise the government to adequately fund the country’s social care system and address the social care funding gap, which the LGA predicts will reach £2.3bn by 2020.

It claims the NHS will not be a sustainable service without a maintainable social care system in place, and that fresh funding is urgently needed to avoid an ‘all-year round NHS crisis’.

Council leaders say urgent action is needed to plug the social care funding gap to help alleviate the pressure on hospitals and reduce hospital admissions.

‘Councils have long warned about the impact of an underfunded social care system on the NHS,’ said Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA.

‘Immediate extra funding will help avoid a situation where people spend longer in hospital … or having their operations cancelled more regularly – as NHS pressures increase,’ said Lord Porter.

Councils say they have been working hard ahead of the winter to help reduce delayed transfers of care from hospitals.

With the Green Paper on the care of older people not due until the summer of this year, the LGA is urging the government to use the final Local Government Finance Settlement to find new money for social care.