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SOCIAL CARE: Government accused of misleading public over £1bn funding

SOCIAL CARE: Government accused of misleading public over £1bn funding

Image: LDRS

The Government has been accused of misleading local people over a promised £1 billion to help councils fund social care.

In November, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said councils would reap the benefits of investment in public services including social care.

But at Sefton Council’s Cabinet meeting this morning, acting chair Cllr John Fairclough said that promise was not all it seemed.

Cllr Fairclough said: “They’re saying [local authorities] are getting an extra billion pounds to help fund social care. What they aren’t saying is that most of this is coming from a council tax increase, meaning local people are actually funding social care.

“We’re having to put council tax up almost five per cent and… I can feel myself about to go on a rant and I don’t want to so I’ll stop myself, but this is just not on.”

Cllr Paul Cummins echoed this, calling the move “contemptible”.

The government is allowing councils to increase council tax by a maximum of 4.99% in April. Three per cent of this will be ringfenced for adult social care.

A £300 million social care grant will also be provided by central government.

Calling the move a “fundamental step backwards”, NCF director Vic Rayner said: “It has offered just £300 million of additional funding, to be split between adult and children’s care services, to a sector decimated by the catastrophic costs of providing care in Covid-19, a pandemic it entered whilst reeling from years of unfulfilled promises of reform and well documented underfunding.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) said hiking taxes has “never been the answer to the long-term pressures faced by councils, particularly in social care”.

The government expects to provide local authorities with more than £3 billion to address Covid-19 pressures, including in adult social care.

Ministers said this will help councils maintain care services “while keeping up with rising demand and recovering from the impact of Covid-19”.

But Sefton Council faces a whopping £20m shortfall due to its coronavirus response.

In October, Council Leader, Cllr Ian Maher, said the local authority had “once again let down by the Conservative Government”.

Words: Kate Lally, Local Democracy Reporter

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