Councils in South West support the urgent call by MPs for a "political consensus" on future funding of adult social care in England.
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.
Cllr John Hart, Chair of SW Councils and Leader of Devon County Council welcomed a letter signed by the chair of the Health Select Committee, and MP for Totnes, Dr Sarah Wollaston, Clive Betts, chairman of the Communities and Local Government committee and Public Accounts Committee chairman, Meg Hillier. The letter says a long-term solution can only be found if there is cross-party consensus.
"Given the scale of rising demand, this immense challenge will face whichever party is in government over the coming decades," they wrote.
They say a cross-party review is the best method of finding a "sustainable way" to fund rising social care costs.
The MPs say agreement must be found quickly if it is to be reflected in the next spending round.
They said a review should begin "as soon as possible" adding that the Commons Health Committee had already concluded that the social care system was at "breaking point".
Cllr John Hart added:
“This Select Committee call for urgent action is unusual in bringing together these three important committees, and the fact that all three are urging cross party action demonstrates the seriousness of the situation.
We have welcomed the Government’s announcement last year bringing forward council tax raising powers as a demonstration that they recognize there is a problem with the funding of adult social care which needs addressing. But 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 this call by MPs reflecting as it does the call by the National Local Government Association for the Government to take urgent action to get a long-term, sustainable solution to the social care crisis and fully recognize why social care matters and treat it as a national priority.”
Chairman of the Local Government Association's Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said:
"We completely support the select committees in urging the Prime Minister to reach a cross-party agreement on the future of health and social care funding.
Following last month's Local Government Finance Settlement, we said there needed to be an urgent and fundamental review of social care before the spring Budget, and we are pleased the select committees back this.
But it is absolutely vital that local government leaders, who are responsible for social care in their local community, are part of that review”
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
For more information on the services provided click the link below:
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)