A CALL for Adult Social Care to be properly funded by central government has been made after Worcestershire County Council revealed it is facing a £17.9million deficit.
Of that money, some £15.6million is due to an overspend in Adult Social Care, said Councillor Robin Lunn (Lab, Redditch North).
“We have a severe crisis and sadly, with the lack of money coming from central government, we are in a position of just managing decline, which is not something neither I or I am sure other members of the council came into politics for.”
The cost of Adult Social Care is spiralling as people live longer, sometimes with complex health issues. Others need assistance after their parents or carers pass away.
“This is not some arcane discussion about council funding, this is about people’s own close relations and how we look after them now and in the future,” added Coun Lunn, who leads the Labour Group at County Hall.
The County Council, which looks after Highways, Libraries, the Environment and Social Care for the people of Redditch, revealed on Thursday that it is facing a net overspend of £5 million as ‘financial pressures on local government increase’.
It said demand for social care was the major factor in this.
In a statement the Conservative controlled authority said cost saving measures, including tighter recruitment controls, a review of all non-contracted spend, management of long term borrowing and capitalising the costs of highways – spreading the costs over a longer period – had reduced the projected overspend by more than £12.5 million.
“Most of the councils that are having these financial difficulties are Conservative run, so its odd that their own government is not helping them out,” said Coun Lunn.
“From a Labour point of view Worcestershire needs to be lobbying its own government for all it’s worth.
“The theory was that reductions in support grant from central government will be made up through business rates. But you only need to look at the problems on the high street to see that is not working.
“And in that case, do we not need a safety net? We need a proper solution and the money for adult social care needs to be ring-fenced to protect it.”
Councillor Simon Geraghty, (Con, Worcester Riverside) the Leader of Worcestershire County Council, said: “Many county councils across the country are reporting financial pressures as a result of increases in demand for children’s services and adult social care.
“Worcestershire is no different. We have already taken action to reduce the predicted overspend. However in the absence of an agreed national solution to fund Adult Social Care we will have to continue to take difficult decisions in order to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”
Worcestershire County Council has an annual net budget of more than £324million.
More than two thirds of that budget is spent on safeguarding children and protecting vulnerable adults. Over the last 10 years the Council has already made £168 million worth of savings and cost avoidance.