Action needed to resolve social care crisis

COUNCIL leaders in Hartlepool say that the Government needs to take responsibility and resolve the social care crisis rather than pass on the financial burden to local councils.

The comments come as final preparations are being made to the Council’s budget for 2017/18 which includes an increase of 4.9% in Council Tax from April – 3% of which is for the Government’s Adult Social Care precept

Over the next three years (2017/18 to 2019/20), Hartlepool Council will see its Government funding reduced by almost £10m.

This means that by 2019/20, the Council will have seen Government funding cut by over two-thirds (£45m) since 2010/11 – the year when the austerity cuts were first introduced.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, the Leader of Hartlepool Council, said that action from the Government is vital to resolve the long-standing issue of spiralling costs of adult social care.

“The Government really need to take responsibility and sort out the national social care crisis. People are living much longer now and many have complex needs which we need to provide for.

“It is not right that the Government is shifting the burden of paying for social care from national taxation to local taxpayers at a time when we are already facing savage cuts in funding and pressures to deliver a wide range of local services.”

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher concluded that an increase in Council Tax is the only option if the Council is to achieve on its strong ambition to further improve the town and protect the most vulnerable members of society.

The large majority of councils in the North-East are expected to agree a Council Tax increase of around 4.9%. Meanwhile, Surrey County Council is proposing a 15% increase to help cope with its rising social care costs.

Councillor Stephen Thomas, chair of the Council’s Adult Services Committee, added: “Every year we are faced with diminishing resources from Central Government but the demands on our adult social care services increase.

“The Government’s 3% AdultSocial Care Precept is just a sticking plaster – it will not resolve the underlying problem of years of under-funding.

“The Government should take responsibility and fund social care properly, rather than rely on increasing Council Tax which is simply just shifting the burden onto local people.

“We are doing our very best to provide the level of service which people in our community need, but people need to be aware of where the problem lies. This is a betrayal on behalf of the Government.”

Cllr stephen thomas 3

Councillor Stephen Thomas

The Council’s budget and Council Tax is expected to be agreed at a meeting of the Full Council on 23 February. If agreed, it would result in the large majority of households (72% in Bands A and B) facing an increase of 93p and £1.08 per week respectively.