Care funding ‘insufficient’ for North Yorkshire - council

Is raising council tax just a short-term fix for the cash crisis in social care?

Is raising council tax just a short-term fix for the cash crisis in social care?

1
Have your say

North Yorkshire County Council has labelled funding plans for the region’s adult social care services revealed earlier this month as insufficient.

In the proposals, the Government will allow councils to raise funds through council tax rises by up to six per cent over two years.

This money would be ringfenced to cover social care costs and will mean a maximum three per cent increase each year. 

Communities Secretary Sajid David said the measures would make “more funding available sooner” and an extra £900m for local authoritiesto spend on social care over the next two years. 

However, Gary Fielding, the County Council’s corporate director of Strategic Resources said the proposals provided insufficient money to address the pressures on adult social care.

He said: “The only new money for social care appears to be a one-off sum of £2.4m next year and that has come from a redistribution of other local government funds.

“There is also the opportunity to bring forward further adult social care precept (part of the council tax) but that already formed part of our budget calculations.

“As a result, the situation in North Yorkshire remains extremely challenging and the year-on-year financial gap remains unchanged.”

Mr Fielding blamed pressure from increasing demand, the impact of the National Living Wage and inflation for creating a£13m 
deficit.

The Government has said that the proposals will create a “sustainable” system for everyone who needs social care but the county council leader has raised concerns over the plans. 

Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Coun Carl Les said he was pleased that the Secretary of State had listened to and understood the calls that immediate funding was needed sooner to meet social care pressures.

However, he said he would have preferred this funding to have been provided through a “fairer” central government taxation rather than council tax payments.

He said: “The residents of North Yorkshire, like other shire counties, tend to pay higher levels of council tax than urban counterparts and receive significantly less government grant.

“That is why it would have been better for the government to recognise the added pressures in social care through direct grant rather than increases in council tax.

“North Yorkshire already operates an efficient, cost-effective and innovative service. 

“Our issues are not those of inefficiency, they are of growth and demand for our services.

“It is good news that people are living longer and one of the County Council’s priorities is helping people to continue living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

“However, sufficient funding needs to be available to support an already stretched but vital service for the county’s most vulnerable residents.”

Harrogate has already felt the pressure on adult social care after the county council’s domiciliary care strategy encountered an early, unexpected crisis. 

Earlier this month, the second of the three home care providers awarded NYCC contracts announced they would be pulling out of their four-year contracts.

John and Wendy Kneller, owners of St Margaret’s Home Care, have warned that the lack of funding from Government will leave social care in a dire situation.

Mr Kneller said: “The Government are cutting back with what they give councils by so many millions a year but they have also allowed them to increase council tax.

“But it’s the Government that should be paying for social care.

“What you’re going to get now is bed blocking in hospitals and the quality of care being reduced.

“Companies will also start call cramming, they’re not doing the calls correctly and it will only get worse.

“It will all come to a head in the present climate.

“Many companies are already on the verge of closing and sooner or later it will collapse.

“The money raised by councils is just a bandaid and social care should be a government funded operation.

“There’s only one way to improve it, there has to be more money spent on 
it.

“It’s almost like the Government don’t care what’s going on.”

North Yorkshire has called on the Government over the last year to provide a more sustainable settlement for adult social care and for a better deal for rural and coastal communities.

It warned last month that the Chancellor’s failure to announce additional funding for adult social care in his autumn statement would place intense pressure on services.

The county council said it has attempted to protect adult social care spending to a greater extent than “many other councils” 

It said 42 per cent of the budget is spent on social care of older people and vulnerable adults.

County Councillors will make decisions on council tax rises for 2017/18 in February.

The County Council is currently running a budget consultation online at www.northyorks.gov.uk/budgetconsultation

Have your say.

Email me: dan.windham@jpress.co.uk