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By Debbie le Quesne

LGA campaigning on our behalf

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At the end of last November the LGA ‘state of the nation’ report highlighted a £5.8bn funding gap in social care by 2019/20. Ouch!

This report from the Local Government Association (LGA) provides an overview of current issues for adult social care and it’s not light reading.

It says the core local government grant has been reduced by 40 per cent in real terms since 2010 and councils have been set a ‘flat cash’ settlement for the remaining years of the decade.

“This, the LGA explains, leaves councils exposed to the pressures from general inflation, increases in demand from population growth and increase in care costs, such as national insurance, the National Living Wage and pension contributions,” the report explains.

So we’re told the funding gap will be hitting £5.8 billion by 2020.

The Better Care Fund springs to mind . . . but has any local Authority seen any of this cash? Over the Christmas/New Year ‘hump’ there has been so much information arriving on my desk and I’m swamped in pile of data – only some which is relevant.

Ultimately, the industry needs hard cash, local authorities require the same and the only paymaster with that kind of financial clout is central Government.

I used to be struck that so many local authority offices in the West Midlands were bursting at the seams with busy, stressed employees. Not anymore – their work has been  outsourced and offices are empty. Whole departments gone and we’re well past the point of sensible economies here.

Politicians really must now decide if social care is a real priority that will cut through rhetoric, depleted LA resource  and deliver solutions.

The Guardian recently stated that adult social care accounts for around 35 per cent of total budget spending by local governments, so with such a high percentage of outgoing, it seems impossible for such a service to contribute significantly to savings.

Like never before the LGA is gaining traction with the media and the headlines being written can only help our case. I’ve seen so many figures that are beyond Monopoly money accounting it leaves me in a financial fog. Over the UK we’re looking at multi-billions of pounds of shortfall.

Ahead of the NHS, social care desperately needs attention as repairing it will have monumental benefits for our health service.

In a nutshell, the LGA report concludes unanimously that social care is chronically underfunded. Interestingly, it highlights that this vital service, that helps define our nation as civilised, does not seem a priority amongst the public. Is it because all parties have failed in the PR and the public really doesn’t understand the implications? Personally, I don’t think so. But I do believe the sheer scale of the problem has remained hidden by successive Government because of their refusal to respond realistically to the ‘help us’ calls of West Midlands Care Association and other similar representative bodies.

More and more I find myself juggling both national and local agendas that straggle both the NHS and social care. For me it appears perverse that over a decade the NHS quota has risen by about 25 per cent while social care has been flat-lined.

Quite what the financial rescue framework will become over the next months is a mystery, but I am certain history will write some pretty damning stuff if we don’t get it right very soon.

 

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Written by debbielq

January 17, 2017 at 9:09 am

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