Somerset backs call for care funding plan

Somerset County Council is backing a nationwide call for a sustainable solution to funding for social care.

A report published today by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) highlights the continuing shortfall in funding for social care across the country, despite the extra £2bn of funding announced in the Government’s spring budget.

Somerset’s budget for social care this year is £135.5m – money spent providing vital care and support for older and vulnerable people, including social work support, care home and nursing placements and care in the home. That’s 44 per cent of its overall budget.

As people live longer and more of them with complex conditions needing costly support, the pressures are increasing. The spring budget announcement means an extra £21m to Somerset social care services over three years, but even that is not enough to keep pace with rising costs.

Councillor David Huxtable, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, said: “The additional funding is welcome, but it’s only really a stop-gap and doesn’t address the underlying deficit in funding for social care.

“Money isn’t the only answer. We have to work closely with health and be creative about how we can help people retain their independence for longer. But the fact is that a long-term solution to the funding issue is needed if councils are going to be able to sustain current levels of service”.

A nationwide consultation on the issue is due to take place later in the year and the ADASS report says that a long-term solution has ‘never been more urgent or vital’.

“The last three governments – so that’s all the major parties – have had some sort of consultation,” said Cllr Huxtable. “What we haven’t had is a concrete plan, and all the time there isn’t a plan, the problem is getting bigger and bigger”.