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LGA response to UNISON 15 minutes care visit report

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Local Government Association (LGA) Community Wellbeing spokesperson responds to UNISON's survey on 15 minute homecare visits

“Short visits are sadly just one of the many symptoms of a social care and support system that is under enormous financial pressure.

"Whilst short visits should not be the sole basis for care, in some circumstances, such as administering medication, they can be appropriate as part of a wider comprehensive care plan involving longer one-to-one visits.

"Extra flexibility around council tax has long-been called for by councils and the ability to add a 2 per cent precept onto council tax bills will allow some local authorities to raise money to offset some of the cost of social care in 2016/17. It would be wrong to think this will be enough to solve the full range of pressures facing adult social care funding, especially with the National Living Wage to add further costs to the system from April.

"No-one wants to have to choose between washing someone or feeding them. Councils will continue to do all they can to maintain the services that older people rely on, but with no immediate extra cash available from the improved Better Care Fund next year, we are concerned that the most vulnerable members of communities will be at risk of losing the essential and dignified care that helps them to live independently

"Services supporting the elderly and disabled are at breaking point now which is why the planned £700 million of new funding from the Better Care fund should be brought forward to 2016/17 in order to help alleviate social care pressures.

"Our aspiration is for better, more coordinated and more personalised care, enabling people to stay healthy, be supported to live in their community and to be in control of their care and their lives. To help achieve this, politicians of all parties need to help raise the profile of social care and its vital role in supporting people's independence. The NHS is rightly considered a ‘national treasure' but social care is as important in terms of the difference it can make to people's lives."

Notes

The council tax referendum limit for all councils in 2016/17 will remain at 1.99 per cent while social care authorities will be able to increase council tax by a further 2 per cent (3.99 per cent in total). Income from this additional precept must be spent on adult social care.

LGA analysis suggests that if all 152 social care authorities used the precept in full they would raise £400 million in 2016/17 and the average Band D taxpayer would see an average rise of £24 in their bill. The LGA has previously estimated that the social care funding gap would grow by at least £700 million in 2016/17 – before the cost of the National Living Wage is taken into account in full. The National Living Wage will cost councils at least £340 million in 2016/17 to lift pay for staff but primarily to cover increased contract costs to home care and residential providers.

LGA backs Government proposals to add a further £1.5 billion for social care through the Better Care Fund by 2019/20. However, there is no additional money for 2016/17 and only £105 million for 2017/18, meaning two years of further pressure, despite care for the elderly and vulnerable being at breaking point now.

View UNISON’s report: 

https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2016/01/23574_Save_care_now_homecare_report-5.pdf

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