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Analysis proves Essex County Council is being asked to achieve the impossible

19 Jul Analysis proves Essex County Council is being asked to achieve the impossible

Most local authorities are unable to raise enough money to ensure their older residents get the care they need in later life, according to a new report, Care in Places, by The Salvation Army.

Adult Social Care is largely funded by local business rates, council tax and other local charges but areas with lower house prices and fewer businesses cannot raise as much money as more urban areas.

This has led to deep levels of funding inequality across the entire country and prevents most local authorities from providing adequate social care for older residents.

Research commissioned by The Salvation Army reveals Essex County Council had around £7,400 per person per year available to spend on residents needing care in later life in 2014, meaning it is amongst the local authorities with the lowest spending power in England.

While both Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Thurrock Council have a greater spending power than the county council, with more than £9,600 and £12,000 available to spend per person per year in 2014 respectively, the cost of residential and nursing care can rise above £30,000 per person per year. It’s easy to see why many local authorities are struggling to fund adult social care.

The Salvation Army is asking the Government to prioritise properly funding adult social care and funding most of it centrally. This is the only way to ensure that money is distributed more fairly and all older people get the help they need.

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant, of The Salvation Army, said:

“People are living longer and the population is ageing, the adult social care bill is rising but the local authority funding streams aren’t enough to cover the demand, especially in areas where there are not many businesses or people to tax.

“The Government must prioritise its spending and properly fund adult social care. For years the rhetoric has been that councils can raise sufficient funds through local taxation to pay for older peoples’ care. This Salvation Army analysis proves that local authorities are being asked to achieve the impossible. Put simply; you can’t squeeze local businesses for more tax if your local businesses are struggling.

“The Salvation Army’s residential care homes see the impact of this funding flaw every day. We are caring for people who don’t have the savings to pay for their own care and stepping in where the council can’t pay for the care.”

The Salvation Army report showed that:

• Some areas are able to raise up to five times more revenue than other authorities.
• It does not follow that areas with lower populations just don’t need to raise as much money. The analysis shows that their funding streams are so depleted they just cannot raise sufficient funds.
• The Salvation Army’s care homes top up what it costs the local authority to run a care home. In several areas what the local authority is able to provide does not even cover the staffing costs.
• While rural areas are the worst hit, the funding disparity does affect urban areas too, especially those that have been hit by years of economic decline.
• The average level of subsidy that we are providing across all our care homes is £302.00 per person per week.

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant of The Salvation Army continued:

“In a few days we will know who our new Prime minster is. His priority must be to set a proper timetable for the long-awaited Green Paper on Adult Social Care as that will be an opportunity to rethink how we fund caring for older people. He must also consider how we spend the money saved by years of reducing national debt. The UK has worked hard to close the deficit, it’s time to invest the savings made on those most at need.”