Autumn statement a ‘missed opportunity’

The Leader of Somerset County Council has labelled today’s Autumn Statement “a missed opportunity” to address the big issue of funding for social care.

Cllr John Osman welcomed the new Chancellor of the Exchequer’s stated commitments to investment in productivity, innovation and infrastructure. However, he was disappointed that the issue of sustainable funding to support adult social care has been put off until the next parliament.

Cllr Osman said: “The Chancellor has a tough job and I whole-heartedly welcome the importance he has placed on the closing the productivity gap, encouraging innovation and developing infrastructure. Those key themes have been identified as big issues across the region and it’s absolutely right to invest today for tomorrow’s economic future.

“But what is really disappointing is the failure to face-up to the elephant in the room – future funding for social care as the population ages. It is a massive challenge for all local authorities. Three quarters of local authorities are expecting to overspend in this area this year and there is clearly a national issue that needs addressing.”

Earlier this month Cllr Osman wrote to the Chancellor suggesting several ways in which he could use his first post-Brexit financial statement to ease some of the pressures on local authorities, particularly in the area of social care budgets.

“The Council, our staff and providers will continue to work extremely hard to deliver this vital support for some of the most vulnerable residents,” said Cllr Osman. “But today’s statement was a missed opportunity to make this a much more achievable aim.”