Local Government Finance Settlement

The Local Government Finance Settlement offered no extra money for local government. In case you haven’t seen the full detail, read the LGA briefing.

The big story was over no extra money for social care. While it is recognised that the social care precept on council tax will bring in some more money, it is also understood that council tax rises will not solve the funding crisis in social care.

Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson, LGA Lib Dem Group Leader, has slammed the lack of extra funding, especially for social care, saying:

“Putting up council tax is not the answer to the social care funding gap. This year’s two per cent increase brought in about £360 million nationally and still leaves a predicted gap of £2.7 billion by 2020. This suggests council tax would need to increase by about 14 per cent to deal with this problem, ignoring any other inflationary issues faced by any provider of services, which will never happen.

“If council tax was a fair tax, this might be acceptable. But it is not. People who own a small terraced house in Portsmouth already pay as much as the owner of a mansion flat in Westminster or Kensington because of the way the system works. Poor people pay a much higher proportion of their income in council tax than rich people. In places like Portsmouth, the needs of the extremely poor will be paid for by the very poor if council tax is the only route for dealing with this problem. Root and branch reform of social care funding is needed, as the Liberal Democrats have rightly been calling for.

“Raiding the New Homes Bonus, like a Tory version of Indiana Jones, is not the answer either. The decrease of £241 million will hit districts hard, and it is nothing better than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as the ship of social care sinks. This recycling of money is yet another example of the Government having no idea of how to tackle the tsunami of issues arising from our increasing longevity.”

 

DRAFT LETTER TO LOCAL MPs

Dear [MP NAME]

I am writing to you as my local MP to express my disgust at the fact there will be no new money for social care services in 2017’s Local Government Finance Settlement, as recently announced to Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats have long called for root and branch reform of our health and care services. But it is not just my party saying this. The cross-party Local Government Association, the NHS, charities and care providers have been united about the need for an urgent injection of genuinely new additional government funding to protect services caring for elderly and disabled people.

By bringing forward council tax raising powers in the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement, the Government has simply shifted the burden of tackling a national crisis onto councils and their residents. The additional flexibility to vary the council tax precept over the remaining years of the Spending Review is not new money and does not address the £2.6 billion funding gap facing social care by the end of the decade.

Given the strength and unity of the care and health sector on the importance of securing a sustainable and long-term funding solution for health and social care, it is unacceptable that nothing has been done and the measures proposed by the Government are not enough. The adult social care precept raises variable amounts of income in different areas due to differences in the tax base across the county. In addition, the ability to collect council tax is unrelated to the ability to pay.

The announcement of additional funding for social care from the New Homes Bonus is not new money and is instead a redistribution of funding already promised to councils. It is wrong to present this as a solution, given the scale of the funding crisis. This move will see money designed to incentivise new homes taken away from councils at a time when the Government has made boosting housebuilding a clear priority. This will be a source of concern to many authorities, particularly shire districts. Early analysis suggests some social care authorities might be worse off because of the switch.

Social care should be treated as a national priority. The Government needs to revisit this as a matter of urgency. Our country needs a long-term, sustainable solution to the social care crisis that the most vulnerable people in our society deserve.

Can you let me know what steps you are taking as my local MP to challenge the Government on this issue? I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

[YOUR NAME]

 

DRAFT COUNCIL MOTION

This council notes:

  • with anger the lack of any extra funding for social care in the Local Government Finance Settlement as announced in December 2016;
  • that by bringing forward council tax raising powers in the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement, the Government has simply shifted the burden of tackling a national crisis onto councils and their residents;
  • the additional flexibility to vary the council tax precept over the remaining years of the Spending Review is not new money and does not address the £2.6 billion funding gap facing social care by the end of the decade;
  • the announcement of additional funding for social care from the New Homes Bonus is not new money and is instead a redistribution of funding already promised to councils;
  • the call from the Liberal Democrats for root and branch reform of how our health and care services are funded

It notes further that the coalition of charities and care providers calling for an urgent injection of genuinely new additional government funding to protect services caring for elderly and disabled people include the cross-party Local Government Association, NHS Clinical Commissioners, The King’s Fund,  NHS Confederation, NHS Providers, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Age UK, and the Care and Support Alliance.

Council calls for:

  • The Leader and Chief Executive to write to our local MP[s] expressing our disgust that vulnerable people who need care and support are not going to get any new funding from government and to ask our local MP[s] what they are going to do to challenge the government over this issue.

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