NEWSFLASH: Mixed response to social care precept changes

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC chief inspector of adult social services.

Stakeholders have given a mixed initial response to the government’s announcement that it is bringing forward spending through the social care precept over the next two years.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said local authorities would be permitted to increase council tax by up to 6% over the next two year for ring-fenced social care spending.

Mr Javid an extra £900m was being provided when this was combined with £240m from the New Homes Bonus, which is being made available next year.

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Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care (pictured), said the sector was now getting the attention it deserved.

Andrea said: “The financial pressures are real but the priority has to be on how we use available resources to deliver good quality care and make a difference for people using services, their families and carers. This is what CQC will continue to focus on, by setting clear expectations, encouraging improvement and holding providers to account.

“The public need to know that even when money is tight, we will not accept second-best or providers cutting corners. We will take notice and when necessary take action.”

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said the move would do “little to paper over the cracks in the social care system” and represented a “missed opportunity to set out a long-term strategy on sustainable social care funding”.

Nadra Ahmed OBE, CEO of the National Care Association, said she was “heartened”by the announcement but said further action would be required.

She added: “‘Quick fix’ measures of the kind proposed fail to take account of those local authorities whose residents are most in need of care services, many of them exempt from paying council tax or qualifying for tax relief. Sadly, these proposals cannot begin to approach a solution to an endemic problem that threatens a care home sector already under threat from further austerity cuts.

“Central government must embark upon more viable public/private integration of care services through realistic, ring-fenced, sector-sustaining funding.”

Dave Lock, managing director of Adept Care Homes, said the move was “too little too late” adding it would be interesting to see how much local authorities give to care homes.

Johanna Fitzgerald, Runwood Homes director of operations – South, said: “I believe the 2% increase to assist with long term spending on social care will be advantageous to the social care sector with spiralling costs which providers are being hard hit to meet with limited fee increases and rising costs in the running of care homes.  Although at a cost to people through council tax charges it is a necessary investment to meet demands of not only an ageing population but systematic strain on social care resources”

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