Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift to press Government on adult social care funding

Calderdale Council Leader Tim Swift will call on Government to make cash available in its spring budget to help councils with rising social care costs, following a full council decision.

Sunday, 9th February 2020, 9:00 am

A majority of councillors backed the proposals from Coun Mike Barnes (Lab, Skircoat) urging Coun Swift (Lab, Town) to take up the issue and also requesting he call on Government to start cross-party talks immediately to legislate for medium and long-term options and solutions to an issue which is putting huge pressure on local authority budgets.

Councillor Barnes said social care was about meeting the complex needs of people who required it, making sure they were suitably housed and their health and mobility requirements were met.

Despite promises in the past from the Conservative Party, councils up and down the country entered 2020 with no plan and no adequate funding structure in place for adult social care.

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If this didn’t change there would be a £3.5 billion funding gap nationally by the end of this Parliament.

The two per cent ring-fenced additional Council Tax rise Government had allowed councils to charge this year would raise less than a tenth of the money Calderdale needed to fund social care.

“Despite assurances from the Prime Minister on his first day in office that he would fix the crisis with a clear plan, it is like the local group’s alternative to the Local Plan – non-existent,” he said.

Coun Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden) said it was right parties should work together for a solution but the Government had a majority and had to face up to the responsibility that came with it. As it stood, councils could not fulfill their obligations properly, she said.

But it was not without some spirited exchanges, particularly with Conservatives who opposed the motion.

Proposing an amendment asking Coun Swift to write acknowledging Government’s additional £3.8 million grant for Calderdale plus its allowing the special Council Tax precept which would raise £1.8 million, Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) said the work was already being done.

The Conservative motion said Coun Swift should urge Government to continue its work and ask Halifax MP Holly Lynch to collaborate with Government to reach a consensus on the social care system that was sustainable and fit for purpose.

“The Prime Minister has promised a long term and sustainable model, is looking at this in the next 12 months and it will be implemented by the end of this Parliament,” he said.

Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) said Government had taken three years to come up with a paper that was late, insubstantial and which failed to address the real problems councils faced.

“Who knows what the long term promised solution will be – you’ll excuse me if I’m sceptical,” he said.

The Cabinet member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing, Coun Bob Metcalfe (Lab, Town) said there was a growing crisis nationally and in Calderdale and there were no quick fixes.

“There has been a lot of encouraging noises from Johnson but no action,” he said.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) said the council was missing an opportunity to see what it could do and was not enthused by the idea of sending more letters.

“We know what the funding situation is for local government at the moment and it is inadequate to do what we would like to do but we can look at how to do things, how we care for people, better ways of working,” he said.

Coun Swift said things like working with community groups, which were being done now, were at risk if budgets had to be cut further.

“We need an honest assessment at national level of what the costs are,” he said, calling the contents of the Conservative amendment, which was defeated, “very much a sticking plaster”.