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Mind the £1.7 billion gap: Tory cuts to adult social care will hit the vulnerable and threaten NHS

09 February 2016
Red Lines Southwark Labour joined councillors across London today to warn that massive government funding cuts to local councils risk hitting the most vulnerable and undermining the NHS.

Adult social care is one of the most important services councils deliver, providing care and support for older people and disabled people at their own house or in a care home. Some 170,000 Londoners receive care from their council, but growing demand and huge government cuts will leave a £1.7 billion funding gap in the capital by 2020.

Independent research released by London Labour’s Red Lines campaign today shows that huge cuts in government funding to councils and growing demand for adult social care risk leading to a £1.7 billion black hole in care funding by 2020. 

The research shows that the cuts to social care jeopardise the NHS, with growing pressure on the NHS nationwide as a result of insufficient adult social care. Hospitals are increasingly finding vulnerable elderly patients coming in to A&E and the pressure on the A&E has meant the Government has missed its 4-hour waiting target consistently for the last five years. Hospitals are also increasingly struggling to discharge patients due to insufficient adult social care, with the number of hospital days lost to delayed discharges at a record high.

The Government has announced it will give councils ‘the power to increase social care funding’ by allowing them to levy an additional 2 per cent precept on Council Tax. Yet, even if every London Borough increased Council Tax by 2 per cent every year this would raise only £570 million by 2020; not nearly enough to fill the £1.7bn funding gap.

Council services have been hit hardest by ideologically-driven Tory austerity. Government funding for Southwark Council has fallen by 40 per cent since 2010, and it is set to be cut further still. Southwark Council has done its best to protect adult social care spending, but with the scale of the cuts forced on the council, and with adult social care making up an ever growing proportion of council spend, this is becoming increasingly difficult. 

Southwark Labour will continue to campaign with Red Lines and with others across London to fight back against vicious Tory cuts.

Sadiq Khan, Labour candidate for Mayor of London, said: “A city can be judged by the way it cares for its vulnerable residents. As Londoners, we all want our city to pass that test. But the Tory government, with its relentless cuts to councils’ funding, is making that impossible”.

Heidi Alexander MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health, said: “This research is further proof that the Tories’ plan for funding older people’s care in London, and across the country, is woefully inadequate. The growing crisis in social care is one of the key reasons why the NHS in London is under so much pressure. Since David Cameron came to power, thousands of older people living in the capital are no longer getting the crucial help they need. This is leading to many more people in their 80s and 90s ending up in hospital unnecessarily and having to stay there because of a lack of care in the community. Ministers cannot allow this neglect of social care services to go on any longer.”

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for adult care at Southwark Council, said: “Southwark is joining Labour councillors to stand up for Londoners against Tory government cuts to social care. The government’s decision to keep slashing council budgets is hitting the vulnerable hardest and undermines quality care and effective partnership work between the NHS and social care. The 2% Council Tax precept won’t raise nearly enough money to make up for the cuts the Tory Government are forcing on us. Despite this, we're continuing to work closely with the Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS to ensure quality care to meet the needs of our residents.”


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