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A percentage of the council tax increase has been ear-marked for Social Care, is it enough?

April 25, 2019 3:43 PM
By Tony Clayton

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The funding system for Social Care since 2016 - adding an extra £100 to £150 to most Council Tax bills - happened by accident. Teresa May's idea for a tax collapsed during the last election, and was replaced in a hurry.

A promised White Paper setting out long term policy is two years overdue, a Brexit casualty. The cash helps, but a permanent solution is needed.

Social Care, especially for the elderly, is a big part of Kent's budget. Much of it is delivered through private care homes, whose costs - especially in West Kent - have grown faster than the finance available.

Care homes can struggle, and often have to subsidise their local authority clients through charges to residents who pay privately. That's not sustainable; it means that the care people need can disappear. One result is hospitals unable to send vulnerable patients home after treatment.

Social Care is in crisis because of under-funding but also due to lack of staff. Because European carers are leaving Britain, providers are under serious stress.

The Liberal Democrats' comprehensive plan to finance health and social care properly starts with an immediate 1p rise on the basic and higher rates of Income Tax to raise £6 billion extra cash. Ring-fenced just for NHS and social care services, it must go to priority areas of social and primary care, where gaps are biggest.

We must take Health and Care funding out of party politics, with a Health and Care Commission, to assess needs for both NHS and Social Care. A Health Budget Monitoring Agency to track demand, new services and productivity would allow everyone to plan - which is what isn't happening now!


Tony Clayton