County council says social care funding needs changing

Essex County Council has said “radical change” is needed for adult social care funding.

It comes after a group of charities and health bodies warned services across the country are at breaking point.

It comes after a joint letter signed by several major heath bodies and charities was sent to the government, urging them to publish a spending review which has been delayed since 2017.

It says that nationally adult social care services are at “breaking point” and could face a funding gap of £3.6billion by 2025.

Among the signatories is Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Sense, Carers UK and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care.

Councillor John Spence, County Hall’s adult social care boss, said: “We are clear that radical change is required to address the severity of the challenges we and the rest of the country face around funding for adult social care.

“Adult social care and public health funding represented almost half of the county council’s total spending during 2017/18.

“Spending on this scale is simply not sustainable given the known demographic trends.”“The Government’s investment to date has only gone so far in helping to tackle issues in the short-term and while we are already taking action to address challenges in Essex.” – putting in place immediate and longer-term plans - we need the Government to take action now to address underlying issues across the sector.”

In the council’s 2019/20 budget, the portion of council tax that goes toward adult social care was raised by 1 per cent - £12.50 for the average Band D property.

In a lobbying letter sent to Essex MPs ahead of last year’s autumn budget, the council said they have “gone to the limits” of the legislation that allows them to do this.

Southend Council has also admitted there are significant funding pressures but stressed it remains committed to providing services.

Sarah Baker, interim director for adult services at Southend, said: “Supporting our most vulnerable members of the community to lead fulfilling lives is something we take pride in and are absolutely committed to, but like all local authorities, we face the challenges of managing budgets and increasing demand.“The adult social care precept in the council tax is ring-fenced funding, so it can only be spent on providing adult social care services and ensuring our residents are safe and well. To help deal with the real challenges we face, we have introduced new and innovative ways to engage with our residents, such as early intervention projects, mental health employment navigators and taking an asset based approach to services, which focuses on strengths.”In the 2019/20 budget Southend Council raised the portion of council tax that contributed to adult social care by 1.5 per cent – the equivalent of £18 each year for the average Band D property.

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