Councils in South West call on Government to respond to urgent calls for a new funding approach for Adult Social Care
The rising cost of delivering adult social care is placing council services under threat. As the region with the highest proportion of over 65s anywhere in the country (20% of the population) The South West is more exposed than anywhere else in the UK.
Speaking after the Government’s announcement of the Local Government Finance Settlement Cllr John Hart, the Chair of South West Councils and Leader of Devon County Council commented:
“Whilst the Government’s announcement bringing forward council tax raising powers shows they recognise there is a problem with the funding of adult social care problem – this will make only a small, short term, difference. It does not address the urgent need for a fundamental change in the way adult social care is funded if we are not to let down the most vulnerable members of our population. The problem is particularly acute in the South West given we have the largest proportion of elderly people in the country.
"We fully support the call by the National Local Government Association for the Government to take urgent action and fully recognise why social care matters and treat it as a national priority."
Lord Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association has said:
"Councils, the NHS, charities and care providers have been clear both before and since the Autumn Statement about the need for an urgent injection of genuinely new additional government funding to protect services caring for elderly and disabled people.”
"The Government must recognise why social care matters and treat it as a national priority. There needs to be an urgent and fundamental review of social care and health before next year's spring Budget. Local government leaders, who are responsible for social care in their local community, must be part of that review. This is imperative to get a long-term, sustainable solution to the social care crisis that the most vulnerable people in our society deserve.
"It also needs to include action to properly fund social care with genuinely new government money. This is now the only way to protect the services caring for our elderly and disabled people, which are at breaking point and ensure they can enjoy dignified, healthy and independent lives, live in their own community and stay out of hospital for longer.
"Next year will continue to be hugely challenging for all councils, who we estimate face an overall funding gap of £5.8 billion by 2020. Further government funding cuts will result in local authorities up and down the country having to make significant reductions to the local services communities rely on, including filling potholes, collecting waste, maintaining our parks and green spaces and running children's centres, leisure centres and libraries, to plug growing funding gaps."
Notes for Editors
South West Councils is a membership organisation drawing together elected representatives from councils in the South West, stretching from Gloucestershire to the Isles of Scilly and across to Swindon, Wiltshire Dorset, Bournemouth & Poole. Membership includes police, fire & rescue services and parish and town councils.
Full membership meets at least twice a year.
South West Councils provides a range of services mainly focused on local government staff and members. This includes:
Employment Advice and Consultancy
Recruitment and Staff Development
Job Evaluation / Pay and Grading
National Pay and Pensions Negotiations
Member and Officer development
Conferences and Workshops
Knowledge sharing and advocacy
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Analysis of the 15 December Local Government Finance Settlement by the Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, reveals:
• Councils will receive £2.2 billion (30.6 per cent) less Revenue Support Grant to run local services in 2017/18 than last year.
• All councils will be able to raise council tax by up to 1.99 per cent in 2017/18 to fund local services without the need for a referendum - most district councils can increase by £5 per year at Band D level.
• England's 152 social care authorities will be able to increase council tax by up to a further 3 per cent in total in 2017/18. Income from this extra precept must be spent on social care. The total social care precept increase allowed across the next three years remains unchanged at 6 per cent.
• This means the maximum social care authorities can increase overall council tax in 2017/18 is 4.99 per cent – this is an increase of 1 per cent above already promised powers. This 1 per cent increase above the previously announced social care precept limit next year will raise £208 million.
• In 2017/18, social care authorities will receive the first payment of £105 million from the additional funding for social care in the improved Better Care Fund announced in the 2015 Spending Review that will rise to £1.5 billion by 2019/20.
• The Government has confirmed New Homes Bonus payments to councils will be reduced from six years to five years in 2017/18, and will introduce a 0.4 per cent baseline so that local authorities will need to achieve growth of greater than 0.4 per cent before they receive any New Homes Bonus funding. This is expected to reduce the income of councils in receipt of the New Homes Bonus by £241 million next year in comparison to indicative figures released in February 2016. The Government has announced this will be used to support councils providing social care as a one-off measure in 2017/18.
The LGA said the money raised by the councils which used the 2 per cent council tax precept this year will not even cover the cost of introducing the National Living Wage.
It warns the next few years will continue to be extremely challenging for councils who face an overall £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020.
Percentage of Population aged 65+ 2010 and 2035 (ONS)