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By Debbie le Quesne

King’s Fund warning on the rich-poor care divide

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George Osborne’s decision to sanction a two per cent rise in council tax to offset cuts to social care will lead to thousands more older people missing out on vital services, the Guardian newspaper has revealed.

For many the bible of social care, the newspaper said the chancellor’s spending review attempt to plug the hole in care funds, will only widen the gap in provision between richer and poorer areas and “raise at most only £800m a year – far less than the £2bn he predicted.”

The King’s Fund is a non-political body that harnesses the thinking of some of the finest minds in the UK. It needs to be heard.

In a detailed critique of the policy, the thinktank has found “that disadvantaged places in the north, Midlands and inner London with the greatest need for social care will lose out because they will be able to raise too little extra revenue from it to make any difference.” How true! We had said for years the Midlands has some of the most impoverished boroughs in the country and they are deserving of a ‘special case’ approach.

Quote from Richard Humphries, the King’s Fund’s assistant director of policy, who has undertaken the analysis: “Relying on councils to plug the gap in social care funding won’t be equitable or effective because of the inverse social care law that councils that have the greatest need for publicly funded social care are least able to meet it [because their council tax bases are so low]. George Osborne’s new policy is of very limited help for them,”

Do I hear an amen?

Humphries adds the precept is a “shortsighted” response to the growing crisis in social care,

And delivering more criticism, Humphries says the plan is ”very opaque, complicated and messy option, which, crucially, will not much help areas at greatest need. It’s a very high-risk strategy.”

Humphries then warns social care providers collapsing, more people going without the care they need or having to pay for it themselves, and even more pressure on families and the NHS to pick up the pieces when there’s a breakdown support.

Quote: “Older people will be more likely to end up in hospital.”

At the risk of overloading this blog, let me quote some more of the Guardian piece: “The thinktank believes that the 2% precept is based on ‘completely implausible assumptions made by the Treasury’. For example, the expected £2bn figure is based on all of England’s 152 councils levying it, but many councils are highly reluctant to raise council tax at all and quite a few were elected after specifically promising no rises. Only half of councils increased their rates this year.”

Humphries found that the two councils that would receive the least extra income from the levy would be Wandsworth, at £3.70-a-head, and Westminster at £4.90. But neither is typical because council tax rates in the two Conservative-run London boroughs are already so unusually low.

If you require more information look up the following link http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/20/osborne-plans-to-allow-2-council-tax-rises-to-plug-social-care-holes

It’s harrowing stuff, but we know that news, by its definition, is rarely good.

In a letter to the Guardian, the King’s Fund chief executive, Prof Chris Ham, and Nigel Edwards, his counterpart at the Nuffield Trust thinktank, say the spending review “represents another setback for people who need social care. [The] new powers to raise council tax will provide local authorities with some financial flexibility but … will disadvantage deprived areas with high needs for publicly funded care.”

Joining the chorus of criticism, along with our selves (WMCA) are charities such as Age UK and Alzheimer’s Society and bodies such as the Local Government Association and Care and Support Alliance.

It’s another example of central government dodging the bullet and putting the responsibility on already struggling local councils to raise more money for social care. Clearly, it should be the role of government to provide it to the growing number of people in need due to the UK’s ageing population.

I don’t doubt there are some politicians who do recognise the huge chorus of complaint, but additional money is still not with us.

The Better Care Fund won’t come into effect until 2017!

As the social care sector we still remain the Cinderella of caring with no frontloading of cash, unlike the NHS.

Okay . . . where’s cream cakes, biscuits? How I need something to ease the pain of reality! Returning to work after a break is that never easy.

 

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