David Mowat: I have acknowledged that the system is under pressure, but I have also acknowledged that different councils respond to that pressure in different ways. For example, Leicester City Council has increased its adult social care budget for next year—2016-17—by 7% in real terms.
David Mowat: Yes, there is disparity—still—in the marketplace and between local authorities, and we need to do everything we can, working with the CQC, to ensure that it is eliminated.
David Mowat: I am tempted just to say, “No, I don’t acknowledge that,” but I make the point again that I am not complacent. We understand that the system is under pressure, and we acknowledge and accept that. That is not the same as saying that there are not things that we can do in terms of quality provision to manage better, and that is what we are trying to do.
David Mowat: The better care fund is predicated on the assumption that we will drive that integration. I also make the point that not just Leicester, for example, but many councils right across the country—something like 40%—have increased, and will increase, their social care budget in real terms next year.
David Mowat: The spending review increased the precept by 2%—that is what we brought in at that time. As I said earlier, this is not the local government settlement, and I have nothing to say on council tax.
David Mowat: My hon. Friend is right that this whole system is more important than politics: there is nothing more important to more people—and more old people in terms of the dignity and quality of their lives—than getting this right, and it is essential that we do that.
David Mowat: It is not my role to lecture Liverpool City Council on how to deliver adult social care. I make the point, though, that Knowsley and St Helens, which are very close to Liverpool, have virtually no delayed transfers of care, and so possibly some best-practice sharing would be in order.
David Mowat: I have made the point already, and I will make it again, that we acknowledge that the precept is uneven in the way that it was announced in the spending review. That is why the additional better care fund component is allocated on a basis that remedies that.
David Mowat: In terms of quality in Buckinghamshire and Birmingham, we look at the CQC reports right across the system, and we are not finding a geographic variation based on those sorts of statistics. That is just the fact of the matter.
David Mowat: In terms of council tax increases, this is not about the local government settlement that has already been announced. The additional better care fund will start to deliver more money from next April, and will deliver more money after that. During the course of this Parliament, there will be a 5% increase, in real terms, in money spent on adult social care.
David Mowat: This year, 42% of councils are increasing their adult social care funding in real terms. The discrepancy caused by the precept is addressed by the way in which we allocate the additional better care fund component and the formula that is used for that.
David Mowat: I am not giving the autumn statement, but I will say again that there is a 5% increase in real terms in adult social care funding during this Parliament, and that 42% of councils are increasing the budget in real terms this year.
David Mowat: Cities do have issues with delivering social care, but so do rural areas, which quite often have a very high proportion of older people. That, in itself, can absorb a great deal of cost. The truth is that, as I have acknowledged, the whole system is under pressure, including in Bristol. We acknowledge that, and we are increasing the total spend by 5% during this Parliament.
David Mowat: That was a decision made by Cambridgeshire County Council, and a number of other councils, such as Hammersmith and Fulham, made the same choice not to increase the precept. Presumably, they did not feel as though they needed to use that money for adult social care. That is a choice that those councils have, and it is a choice that they must take to their voters.
David Mowat: I am not aware of the specific issue that the hon. Lady has raised about the respite care centre in Sheffield that is on the point of closure, and I would be happy to discuss that with her so that I understand it better. I can only repeat that today is not the day that we are going to announce a royal commission into funding.
David Mowat: There is an issue with that, and that issue exists in various parts of the country. We acknowledge it and we need to manage it. We also need to manage the total number of beds in the system and the total number of domiciliary providers in the system. The total number of beds, as I said earlier, is the same now as it was six years ago. The total number of domiciliary providers is around 40% higher.
David Mowat: The hon. Gentleman is quite right. I congratulated Halton and Warrington Councils on being two councils that have particularly low rates of delayed transfers of care. The fact that they are achieving that in spite of the budget constraints that he mentions demonstrates that this is not just about money; it is about quality, it is about leadership and it is about best practice.
David Mowat: The number of beds available in the system right now is about the same as it was six years ago. There is an issue with managing the financial performance of significant care providers. One thing we brought in two years ago was a robust process, led by the CQC, to look at the financial performance of the biggest providers and to warn us of any issues that may arise. We are very keen on...
David Mowat: The hon. Lady paraphrases what I said rather inaccurately. I said that money would help with any system, but the issues are about quality, leadership and best practice as well. All those things are within the ambit of my job, and that is what I am pursuing.
David Mowat: I often discuss this and other issues with Ray James. It is true that the precept on its own would result in an uneven distribution of revenue, which is why the additional moneys coming from the better care fund will be allocated using a formula that corrects that.