Care England concerned by failure to take up social care precept

Professor Martin Green

Care England has expressed its concern over the failure of Hammersmith & Fulham and Hillingdon councils to take up the social care precept.

The two councils were the only two not to raise additional money in the first two years of the precept, which allows councils to increase Council Tax by up to an additional 6% between 2016/17 and 2019/20 to fund social care costs.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said: “As a representative body we are particularly exercised about Hammersmith & Fulham, and Hillingdon’s decisions not to take up the full amount permissible under the Government’s adult social care precept scheme, particular as both councils refused to make any inflationary increase in the prices they paid for care home beds in 2017/18.  The sector is already on its knees, and such decisions are only exasperating a desperate position for vulnerable people needing social care.”

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Care England last week raised its concerns that many councils were yet to make their fee offers for the current financial year known (see Care England calls for LAs to get to grips with fee offers).

Council response

Hammersmith & Fulham said it was the only council to have cut and then frozen council tax over the last four years. The council said it has raised funding for adult social care services by £4.7m this year.

“We’re reforming every aspect of the way our council operates, to modernise and improve services and put money back into our residents’ pockets,” said Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of H&F Council.

“That’s how we’ve been able to freeze council tax bills while also funding more local police officers than ever before; abolishing charges for adult social care in 2014; and reducing the majority of council charges in real terms.

“Government funding cuts put unprecedented pressure on local services, particularly on care for elderly and disabled residents. But it is exactly those people who are hit hardest by council tax rises.”

Hillingdon Council said its residents were not being charged the social care precept for the third year running and its Council Tax had been frozen for the past 10 years.

Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “We put residents at the heart of everything we do, and it is our sound financial management and good business practice that really sets Hillingdon apart from other councils.

“Considering the huge financial pressures facing local authorities, freezing council tax for a 10th successive year and the 12th year for over 65s is a remarkable achievement and we will continue to improve facilities and deliver services that our residents value.”

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