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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Response by Local Government Association to Provisions for Social Care in Chancellor's Autumn Statement

November 25, 2015 8:29 PM
By Cllr Sharon Taylor, Deputy Chair of the Local Government Association

We have reproduced below the Local Government Association's response to the provisions for social care in the Autumn Statement and Spending Review delivered by the Chancellor, George Osborne, earlier today:

"Councils have long called for further flexibility in the setting of council tax. Today's announcement will go some way to allowing a number of councils to raise the money needed to offset some of the cost pressures on social care.

"Councils, the NHS, care providers and the voluntary sector have all united around the need for central government to fully fund adult social care as this is vital to protecting care services and easing pressure on the NHS. It cannot be solely left to local council taxpayers to fix our chronically underfunded social care system.

"The additional provision of a £1.5 billion increase in the Better Care Fund announced today is good news but it is vital this is new money and must be spent on adult social care. We are concerned that councils will not see the benefit until towards the end of decade when services supporting our elderly and vulnerable are at breaking point now.

"If all councils providing social care increased council tax by an extra 2 per cent each year they would raise £1.7 billion by 2020 with the average Band D taxpayer seeing an average rise of £96 in their bill. These council tax raising powers do not represent guaranteed money as not every council will be able to or will want to raise council tax in this way.

"Wealthier areas could benefit more because they collect more of their budgets through council tax and are less reliant on government funding. More deprived areas could then be hit doubly hard because they will be have to cope with deep government funding cuts while being unable to use council tax raising powers without dragging low-income families into financial difficulty.

"Elderly and vulnerable people now face an uncertain future where the dignified care and support they deserve, such as help getting dressed or getting out and about, will increasingly be at risk. We are also now on the fast-track towards a care home collapse which will leave more people left languishing in hospital beds. This is not only worse for our parents and grandparents but it is also bad for the taxpayer who will be left to pick up the bill."

Footnote: Earlier today it was reported that Britain's biggest care home operator, Four Seasons Health Care, is to close seven loss-making sites in Northern Ireland, a move that will affect hundreds of patients.