Social Care Report ‘Wake Up Call To Government’ – LGA

Commenting on the CSCI report, State of Social Care, Cllr David Rogers, chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “This report exposes the deeply worrying trends within social care.

Councils will hope it proves to be a wake up call to the Government, which has starved the sector of investment for far too long.

“Central government funding – which accounts for a significant proportion of a council’s budget – has not kept pace with the needs of an ageing population. The withdrawal of services is an issue many people are rightly concerned about. Councils want to provide high quality social care at the right time and in the right place. Authorities also want to deliver the best possible support to carers and service providers who do such an important job in often difficult circumstances.

“A lack of funding means councils have been placed in the invidious position of withdrawing some services because they have been forced to concentrate resources on people with the most severe needs. Through our Fair Care campaign, the LGA is lobbying government to provide the necessary resources to meet the expectations of people who rely on care and those that provide it.  

“Unless the Government takes urgent action, older people may not receive basic care to help them stay at home by April 2009. Hundreds of thousands could lose or have to pay for the little services that mean so much, like help with washing or getting dressed.

“There must be a serious debate about how the care needs of an ageing population are funded. Support for services such as social care through the general grant has increased by just14 per cent since 1997/98. Council tax payers, including millions of older people, have had to pick up the tab and they simply cannot afford to pay any more. It is to the credit of people working in social care that services are improving year on year in such difficult circumstances.”

On the commission’s findings that NHS budget deficits in some areas were impacting on services, Cllr Rogers said: “It is not our place to comment on the financial problems of some NHS trusts, but we do not expect the council tax payer to pay for them. We need to bring decision making between health and social care much closer together and make all public service leaders accountable to the people they serve. Only then will we avoid a repeat of the recent cost shunting that has led to cuts in services.”