Immediate short-term action needed to halt deepening adult social care crisis
A national solution to the social care crisis is needed; but there must be a short term mechanism to stop the inequality gap widening further, says Alan Johnson MP.
In the past week alone Age UK has said that the adult social care system was moving from crisis to collapse and a study headed by Oxford University found that cuts in funding had led to an unprecedented increase in mortality.
On Wednesday, February 22nd Parliament will be debating one strand of this complex issue which is the Government's decision to allow local authorities to raise extra money to tackle this crisis through a precept on council tax of up to 3%.
Many believe that this passing of a national problem to local councils will worsen the postcode lottery in adult social care and fail to address the problem, particularly for cities like Hull where there is a high level of need and low levels of council tax income.
Since 2010 £4.6b has been slashed from social care budgets. The precept cannot begin to meet the shortfall, given that it provides only 3% of council spending on adult social care. Furthermore the precept will worsen inequalities.
Whilst Kingston-upon-Thames will receive £15.27 per person to spend on lower demand for adult social care, Kingston-upon-Hull will receive £8.01 to cope with much more profound care needs.
The King’s Fund points out that the ten most affluent areas will raise almost two-and-a-half times more than the ten most deprived.
There needs to be a national solution to the crisis in adult social care but in the short term there has to be a mechanism that properly measures need as part of the allocation of funding.
There also needs to be a thorough assessment of the increased costs to local authorities of the impact that the Care Act and other unfunded Government initiatives have had on the already critical funding situation
If not, the crisis will continue and the inequality gap that the Prime Minister pledged to close will become wider still.
Alan Johnson is the Labour Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle