Iain Malcolm says the government has missed countless opportunities to improve social care; Nick Finer says the health minister is either complacent or in denial about the NHS’s troubles; David Etherington and Martin Jones say authorities have ignored the evidence on universal credit; and John Evers wonders about the obsession with Brexit amid a sea of domestic troubles
Thank you for leading the debate on the national crisis in social care (Forgotten and forsaken, Social care supplement, 11 October). As David Brindle rightly states, there was a “deafening silence from last week’s Conservative party gathering in terms of any relevant policy or funding initiative”. The government has missed countless opportunities to address this crisis. Work is yet to begin on the review promised earlier this year, while local government finances continue to be squeezed. Faced with the double dilemma of a growing elderly population and chronic underfunding from central government, the social care system in Britain is at breaking point. This fact of life has been highlighted by organisations such as the NHS, the Care Quality Commission and the King’s Fund for some time, yet the government ignores their warnings.
The precept does not plug the gap left by a diminishing central government grant, the introduction of the national living wage and increasing demand, particularly in areas with the lowest council tax base, where demand is higher. In 2016/17 the 2% increase in council tax raised just £900,000 for adult social care in South Tyneside – against £9.8m needed. Following the additional funding announcement in spring, the government has yet to state what funding, if any, will be available beyond the initial three-year period. We need long-term solutions and fair funding to enable us to provide our ageing population with the care and dignity they deserve.
Cllr Iain Malcolm
Leader, South Tyneside council
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