Exclusive: Theresa May says Norfolk County Council should put up tax if they need funds
- Credit: PA
Theresa May has backed moves to put up council tax bills in Norfolk to plug a gap in social care funding.
The prime minister said it was right for local authorities to have new powers to raise money when they needed it.
Norfolk taxpayers are facing at least an extra £55 a year on their bills after the Conservative leader of Norfolk County Council said he wanted to put his part of the bill up by 4.8pc. Conservative leader Cliff Jordan last year accused the government of 'not passing enough down' to local authorities to look after the people who have paid their taxes to be looked after in their frailties or old age.
But Mrs May insisted that Norfolk County Council had been given a long-term funding settlement of £2.4bn between now and 2020.
'What we have seen from local government generally is they have wanted to have more flexibility and control over local council tax rates including being able to increase rates for vital services and we have given them that flexibility. I think it is right that at local level councils have these new powers around local council precepts and to raise the money when they need. Norfolk has already raised over £6m extra this year which will be spent on social care.
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'They will be getting more money by 2020 – over £46m from the improved better care fund. I think it is right that we say at a local level councils are able to identify what the needs are and able to raise that extra funding.'
Mrs May acknowledged that a long-term solution was needed. But she dismissed suggestions by former health minister Lord Prior that another NHS reorganisation was needed to integrate health and social care.
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Mrs May said: 'This isn't just about extra money being available which it is in the short-term. It is also making sure that best practice is being shared across the NHS and local councils. There are some parts of the country, for example, where there are virtually no delayed discharges from local hospitals because local authorities and social care are working very well with their local hospitals, others where the picture is somewhat different.
She added: 'What I know across the country is there are some parts of the country where health and social care are already very well integrated, with local authorities sitting down and working with the local NHS.
'It hasn't taken a reorganisation to be able to do that. It is actually people working very well together and addressing these issues, sometimes in different ways, but making sure they are recognising there is this need to integrate health and social care and health services in this area.'