Radical changes of culture, including more multi-generational living and popular recognition of socially important jobs, will be needed to tackle the social care crisis, leading councillors have said.
Ahead of Government proposals to meet the nationwide challenge of funding adult social care, North Yorkshire County Council members warned money alone would not address issues created by spiralling costs and demand.
Despite numerous delays, a Green Paper is expected to be published before the end of the year to detail whether raising income tax or national insurance, charging a social care premium to the over-40s, means testing universal benefits such as winter fuel allowances or council tax hikes should be used to fund care.
The authority’s deputy leader, Councillor Gareth Dadd, said while the council was spending 43 per cent of its budget on adult social care and would welcome an extra source of funds, the solution lay partly with society.
He said: “It’s about culture and families working together and looking after their own. The Government can help in a variety of ways, such as tax breaks and incentives in the planning system so that we can have small annexes and enable more multi-generational living.
“It’s about that general culture shift because this day and age as families are out working, have a big mortgage and kids to drop off at school they are not finding time, because they have not been asked to do so, to look after the elderly generation.”
The council’s customer services boss Greg White said the authority needed to be “looking at more blended forms of care where the local community can get involved”.
He said: “We are very much moving towards a professionalisation of local care. We need to make sure that in the rush to professionalise we don’t miss out on the communities and volunteers who want to help local people.
“My local pub regularly provides meals to people who can’t cook their own and don’t want or need to come to the pub. Plates go out with tin foil over the top and that’s something they have always done. That’s the sort of thing we should be encouraging and seeing if the county council can get involved in helping.”
In areas of North Yorkshire, where unemployment is low, adult social care pressures are being exacerbated by the care sector struggling to recruit a workforce.
With supermarkets typically paying £3 more an hour more than the best-paying care providers, it was vital care workers received recognition for the “wonderful, marvellous job” they perform, said Councillor Lindsay Burr.
She said: “Something fundamental is missed with adult care and that’s the people who deliver it. Sometimes the jobs are classed in a derogatory way and yet they care for our loved ones. It’s hard to understand that they can get less for doing that than if they work in Tesco.”
Stuart Minting , Local Democracy Reporting Service