Adult Social Care Funding

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th April 2017.

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Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Shadow Minister (Education) (Children and Families) 12:00 am, 24th April 2017

What steps he is taking to tackle regional variations in adult social care funding.

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

Adult social care funding is distributed according to the relative need of the different areas using a well-established formula. Most of the £4.5 billion funding for social care announced at the 2015 spending review and in the spring Budget takes into account councils’ ability to raise money through the social care precept.

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Shadow Minister (Education) (Children and Families)

I thank the Minister for his response, but I am sorry to say that he is wrong. The formula is broken. South Tyneside Council is the third hardest hit council in the country with a low council tax base, demand for adult social care higher than average and hospital services under threat from this Government’s forced sustainability and transformation plans. Is it not true that this Government, who created the social care crisis, cannot solve it and our constituents are suffering as a result?

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

The hon. Lady’s assessment is completely wrong. Councils will have access to £9.25 billion of extra funding over the next three years. On the money that is coming directly from the Government, it absolutely takes into account a local area’s ability to raise council tax, so areas such as that of the hon. Lady will receive more in funding from the Government than some other areas. She does not have any reason to talk about council tax because it doubled during the Labour Government. Since 2010, it has gone down by 9%.

Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee, Chair, Justice Committee

The Minister’s answer on the former point is absolutely right, but does he also accept that another variable, perhaps of greater practical concern, is the variation in the willingness of the health sector to work jointly with local authorities to maximise the integration of the funds? Local authorities are well used to joint working and democratic accountability, but I am afraid that there is not often the same history in clinical commissioning groups and other health institutions. What will he do about that in a future new Government?

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

I have great respect for my hon. Friend, who has considerable knowledge in this area. He is absolutely right: we need to ensure that health and social care works far more collegiately and that harder work is done to ensure that services are integrated. We are determined to do that at a national level with this Department working with the Department of Health, and it is what we expect to see delivered at a local level for local people.

Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

As the Minister has recognised, the social care precept means that funding available for social care is increasingly dependent on a local authority’s tax base. In 2017-18, the precept will generate £9 million in additional funding in Sheffield, compared with more than £31 million for Surrey. Does the Minister think that that is fair?

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

The hon. Gentleman should look at the allocations for the £4.5 billion of social care funding coming to local authorities directly from the Government. That absolutely takes into account the fact that certain places can raise far more in council tax and from the social care precept than areas such as his own. That is reflected in the allocations, and I wish that he would recognise that.

Photo of Teresa Pearce Teresa Pearce Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Shadow Minister for the Constitutional Convention

Many care homes up and down the country are reliant on care workers from the EU; estimates suggest that there are about 100,000 workers. What meetings does the Secretary of State have with the care sector to reassure them that, when Britain leaves the EU, care homes will be adequately staffed with appropriately trained care workers?

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

The hon. Lady makes a very important point and I can reassure her that my hon. Friend the Minister who is responsible for these matters in the Department of Health has met care providers, as has my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and as have I. This is an extremely important situation and we must ensure that we have enough care workers to support the most vulnerable in our society.