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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Council bosses respond to £1.5 billion social care boost

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Social care bosses in Notts have reacted to news that an additional £1.5 billion is set to be made available to councils to help tackle the growing funding crisis in adult social care.

From April next year, the city and county councils will receive a share of £1 billion in a grant, specifically ringfenced for social care and for one year only.

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A further £500 million can be raised through the adult social care precept – essentially a rise in council tax for everybody which can only be spent on social care.

Social care is under significant pressure, with rising costs, growing demand, people living longer with more complex needs, and cuts to council funding.

The leader of the Conservative-led Nottinghamshire County Council said she was ‘delighted’, and that the announcement showed the Government ‘recognised the pressures we face’.

But the finance chief at Labour-controlled Nottingham City Council said the funding would go nowhere near replacing the money they had lost in Government cuts.

It is not yet clear exactly how much money each council will get. The money will be divided up between every top-tier council in the country which are responsible for adult social care.

However both local councils are expected to enforce the social care precept, meaning people will pay more council tax.

Councillor Sam Webster is the city’s portfolio holder for finance, and said: “A huge amount of damage has been done to local public services by austerity cuts over the last nine years.

“Conservative Chancellors have taken away £529 per Nottingham household and our core Government funding for local services has been cut by £102 million.

“Here in Nottingham we’ve consistently said enough is enough. It’s about time the Government stopped holding regional cities back. Although there is some financial relief from the announcement, the Chancellor expects big council tax increases to fund the growing costs of care for the elderly.

“Councils up and down the country will have to further reduce services, increase costs and increase council tax as the Government continues to grossly under-fund local services.

“The Government continues to expect council tax payers to shoulder big increases as they have cut 60p in every £1 of national funding.

“Places like Nottingham which have greater demand for care services for older and vulnerable people can raise much less through a precept added onto council tax than affluent areas where more people can afford to pay towards their care.

“It’s therefore a bad way of ensuring that funding is available where it’s needed most and is another example of the Government failing to recognise that fairer distribution of funds is needed. All councils have been waiting for the Government to propose reforms to the funding for care services for the elderly, but sadly they have delayed dealing with this issue yet again”

Councillor Kay Cutts is the leader of the county council, and represents Radcliffe-on-Trent for the Conservatives.

She said: “This is the biggest increase in spending power for local government in a decade and will help councils to meet the rising cost and demand pressures they face in 2020/21.

“We’ve been lobbying government for some time on the provision of extra funding for social care and I’m delighted that this Government has recognised the pressures we face.

“This new funding will help us continue to provide the social care services needed by Nottinghamshire residents.

“It will help to ensure older people and disabled people can live the lives they want to lead and it will support our most vulnerable young people.”

Councillor Cutts has been part of the County Councils Network of Leaders which has lobbied the Government throughout the summer for extra resources for local authorities.

Councillor Cutts said: “The new Prime Minister and Chancellor have clearly listened to the views of local authorities and this new funding is really positive news.

“It also bodes well for the ongoing review of the way funding is distributed between councils, which we hope will see large social care authorities such as Nottinghamshire receive a fairer and greater share of this and other new money in the future.

“The Chancellor’s announcement also shows that, despite all the political pressures associated with delivering Brexit, this Government is acting and investing in key domestic priorities such as health and social care, education and policing. It is a new chapter for our public services.”

A long-awaited plan for the future of social care – known as a green paper – is still yet to be revealed.

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