Council welcomes Spending Review announcements

The Leader of Somerset County Council has welcomed this week’s funding announcements – but said the push for cross-party work on long-term reform of social care funding must continue.

In yesterday’s 2020/21 Spending Review announcements, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said councils will have access to an extra £1.5bn for care in 2020/21 as a ‘down payment’ ahead of future ‘fundamental reforms.’

Last month Somerset County Council Leader, Councillor David Fothergill, launched an online Stand Up For Care petition www.somerset.gov.uk/standupforcare calling for cross-party discussions to end the national social care funding shortfall.

He welcomed this week’s announcements but underlined the need for a longer-term solution: “Extra money to ease immediate pressures is great and vindicates the work we and others have done to put social care at the top of the agenda.

“But I was just as interested in the repeated commitment to the reform that’s needed to make sure social care is sustainable for years to come.

“Whatever happens in Westminster in the coming weeks, cross-party agreement on long-term reform for social care funding has to be a priority and I would urge people to sign our petition calling for just that.”

The spending review announcements mean Somerset will receive a share of an extra £1bn nationally for adults and children’s social care, though how much this means isn’t known at this stage.

Subject to government consultation, councils may also be given the option of adding an extra 2 per cent to Council Tax for adult social care – for Somerset this would mean an additional £5m if taken forward. And the Chancellor confirmed that existing grants will continue into the next financial year.

Somerset’s #Standupforcare petition is hosted on the www.petition.parliament.uk website or can be found by following www.somerset.gov.uk/standupforcare The petition has the support of all the County Council’s political party leaders.

Nationally, Government funding for social care has not kept pace with the rising demand for care as the population ages. The Local Government Association estimates that by 2025 the national adult social care funding gap will be around £3.5billion. In Somerset, 38 per cent of Somerset’s net budget is spent on adult social, care, that’s £126m.

The BBC Panorama documentaries broadcast earlier this year – filmed over ten months with Somerset County Council – raised the profile of care funding pressures. The petition is part of the Council’s continued commitment to keeping the need for reform of social care and secure its long-term funding on the political and public agenda.

Any British Citizens or UK residents can sign the petition and it’s hoped that people from across the country will use it to make their voices heard. 10,000 signatures triggers a formal response from the Government while 100,000 would mean it is formally considered for a debate.