By Debbie le Quesne

Over the border in Shropshire – just as predicted

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It’s always good to keep eyes and ears open in the care sector and part of my remit tis to remain abreast of what’s happening to regions other than my own.

Recently, the Shropshire Star – sister paper of the Express & Star – announced that a social care overspend will soak up £8,5m of Shropshire Council’s extra funding.

Shropshire Council’s leader, Councillor Malcolm Pate was joined by the council’s chief executive Clive Wright on a visit to lobby Government at Westminster.

Their message to Marcus Jones MP, parliamentary undersecretary of state for local government: The council needs £20 million more a year to prevent deep cuts in services over the next three years.

It’s a familiar story across the regions north of the Home Counties.

But it appears, what’s reported as gentlemen’s agreement now exists and Shropshire is to get extra funding  – £8.5m – over two years.

Currently, said the newspaper report, “Shropshire Council’s growing elderly population means it faces a disproportionate bill to pay for adult social care. But Councillor Pate warned that despite the extra funding the council is effectively in the same position it was before the increase in its funding settlement was announced.”

The impact of the extra funding is being investigated by the authority’s officers, the report added.

My worry is that any extra funding that is squeezed from the purse of Government would be a drop in the ocean, but sadly our Cabinet currently holds all the cards.

Interestingly, Shropshire’s over-65-year-old population is growing at a faster rate than the national average. Shropshire can expect to see its population of over 65 year olds grow 14 per cent by 2020, this compares to 12 per cent nationally.

In a letter to Cabinet last December, local authority, NHS, provider and charity leaders, warned there was not enough cash in the system and called for urgent action.

In the letter to George Osborne, health secretary Jeremy Hunt and communities secretary Greg Clarke, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), NHS Confederation, Care and Support Alliance (CSA) and Care Providers Alliance (CPA) warned that the Better Care Fund initiative and the opportunity for LAs to up council taxes would not be enough to deal with current and future pressures.

The same drum was sounded by West Midland Care Association . . . and guess what? We were all spot on with predictions.

Inevitably we are going to see an acceleration of the failure of domiciliary, residential and nursing home providers; less support to needs the needs of the elderly within community and residential setting; and unbearable pressure on NHS beds.

No wonder in places like Wolverhampton the CCG is desperately trying to keep our elderly a whole lot healthier.

I’m a great believer in keeping things in context, so here’s a parting thought. I’m not diminishing Shropshire’s problem, but it’s nothing compared to those in Sandwell and Walsall where the older population is not only getting disproportionately bigger, but also much poorer than their Shropshire counterparts.



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