Council social care chairman says Conservative cash to ease pressure on hospitals just a ‘sticking plaster’
PUBLISHED: 10:35 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:31 02 October 2018
© Archant Norfolk 2013
The government’s announcement that it will pump an extra £240m into social care to stop winter pressure on the NHS has been branded as a mere “sticking plaster” - by a leading Conservative at County Hall.
Health secretary Matt Hancock is due to announce the extra cash at the Conservative party conference today, as part of an attempt to avoid placing too much strain on hospitals.
Bill Borrett, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s adult social care committee, said he welcomed the boost and was keen to find out how Norfolk could benefit.
But he said it was not a long-term solution and challenged the government to come up with a sustainable way of funding services for the county’s most vulnerable people.
Mr Borrett said: “I welcome the government’s additional investment in adult social care, in order to ease hospital pressures and I await further details about Norfolk’s share.
“However, the key here is that one-off funding is not going to do more than provide a sticking plaster.
“With rising demand with people living longer we need a sustainable approach to adult social care funding. I am looking for a serious commitment to this in the government’s green paper that is expected shortly.
Mr Hancock, who is MP for West Suffolk is due to say the money will go to local authorities depending on their adult social care needs, to help people get back into their own homes after stays in hospital.
The county council’s adult social care committee will next week hear how an extra £11.9m must be cut from Norfolk County Council’s budget for looking after some of the county’s most vulnerable people - meaning spending will be reduced by £38.8m by 2022.
Adult social services already has to make £27m of savings between 2019 and the end of 2022, but a report going before councillors next week identifies that £11.9m more must be saved.
Council officers have been working on a strategy to save money by reducing demand on services, through early intervention and by shifting away from residential care to people retaining independence in their own homes.
The council is due to join forces with other organisations to start a 10-year development programme to provide nearly 3,000 extra homes for older people in Norfolk - with a capital investment of up to £29m.
That includes apartments, rented or owned by people who need a level of care, with staff available to help 24 hours a day.
Another proposal is to save £2m by focusing on reablement, so people who have stints in hospital are safe to return home afterwards.
The council says that could help 800 people a year.
The council is also looking to save £2m over two years through changes to charging policies, which could see some service users have to contribute more to their care costs.
Like all councils, Norfolk faces losing the revenue support grant - a general grant given to the council by the government each year - by 2020.
The county council was predicting a £94.6m budget gap by 2022, but announced last month it has been closed to £45.3m, including through a proposed 1.99pc council tax in 2021-22, on top of a 2.99pc increase next year and a 1.99pc increase the next year.
They also intend to raise £10m of capital receipts, to reduce debt payments.
Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight last night, Elizabeth Truss, chief secretary to the treasury and South West Norfolk MP said councils were able to raise more money locally, such as through council tax.
“We are not making cuts to local authorities, what we’ve done, we are giving them more revenue raising powers, so that decision can be taken locally.
“I think it’s really important that local councillors are responsible for the decisions they make.”