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By Debbie le Quesne

Good old Beeb wading in to help with the message

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In a response to the Osborne funding solution to a gaping hole in social care funding, some of the industry’s top brass have waded in with their response.

Along with representations made by the West Midlands Care Association in the lead to Christmas, a letter –signed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Care Provider Alliance, and the NHS Confederation – has formed the basis of a BBC piece.

It points out that the amount of money council tax brings in varies greatly, with local authorities in poorer areas worse off.

The Beeb noted George Osborne said his plans would lead to an above-inflation rise in care budgets.

But council chiefs, NHS managers and care bosses have cast doubt on those claims in a letter to the chancellor.

It warned his plans “would leave a funding gap and put vulnerable people at risk.”

Of course, this is denied by the government.

In the none-too-helpful Spending Review, Mr Osborne said he was protecting social care budgets by allowing local authorities to raise council tax by 2 per cent and increasing the amount of money available for the Better Care Fund, a joint pot of money used by councils and the NHS to support care services.

Hmmm . . . He also said that with other changes, it would mean care budgets would rise, adding the NHS could not “function effectively without good social care”.

Good old BBC reported: “But now those involved in providing care services are questioning those claims.”

I can’t think of a single person in the care sector who is not questioning the claims.

No extra money (£1.5bn) from the Better Care Fund – it will not kick in until 2019 and according to the Local Government Association two of its main funding streams, the income it gets from the central government grant and business rates, down 24 per cent in real terms this Parliament term.

Together these account for about a third of council funding.

Again the warning is bleak. Ray James, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, is reported as saying the result will see councils struggle to maintain care spending at its current level, never mind increase it.

Critically, James added: “We have an ageing population which is increasing demand and have to cope with the introduction of National Living Wage. Without action, we will see care homes close and vulnerable people not getting care.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said councils had enough for care services, according to the report.

What?

For months all I appear to be reading are warnings of closure and the perils of failing care because the cash is just not there. God forbid that it will take another national chain to go bust before the purse strings are released.

Do these government spokespeople really believe there is sufficient in the pot? Like Dickens’ character Oliver with his meager rations of gruel, the industry dare cries for more. I recall they wanted to hang young Oliver. I recall the other day, in a response to the Autumn Statement, one care provider saying “We’re being hung . . . out to dry.” Nothing much changed from the days of Dickens then (I jest, of course).

 

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