Somerset County Council is today welcoming the Government announcement on extra funding for health and social care.
The Council has been at the forefront of campaigns to invest more nationally in social care and has been pressing for increased funding.
The Government is proposing a 1.25% increase in National Insurance contributions, an increase in tax on dividends and, in 2023, a national health and social care levy.
There will also be a cap on care costs: no-one will have to pay more than £86,000 for care across their lifetime, while anyone with less than £20,000 of assets will get free care. People with less than £100,000 of assets will see their care costs subsidised. This would mean local authorities like Somerset County Council having more responsibilities, due to an increase in demand, with added strain on social work capacity.
County Council Leader David Fothergill, who has been at the forefront of local authority calls for reform of the social care system, said that while he welcomed the funding announcement, the money had to be devolved to councils so that it provides the necessary resources locally and reaches those needing care as well as the care providers and their care staff..
He cited Somerset’s high-profile role in raising the issues facing councils, carers, and clients, including taking part in a BBC Panorama programme that highlighted the acute stress faced by all involved in social care.
“Firstly, I want to welcome this announcement,” he said. “In Somerset, we have argued our case very strongly over many years, and it is positive to see action now being taken.
“We need to see the detail and I am concerned about a possible gap over the next three years if the extra funding goes to the NHS. Of course, we all recognise the extraordinary work and challenges faced by our colleagues and partners in health, but we need a plan as well as funding for social care.
“It’s not just for older people as many might think – half the money we spend is for adults with disabilities. During the pandemic we have seen the demand for social care rise by a third – that’s a huge increase.
“Now social care has reached the top of the Government agenda we must make sure that the money goes to local authorities, care providers, those working in social care.
“I am pleased to see the Government is at last recognising that something has to be done and I will go on arguing the case for social care – and for Somerset.”