• Hugo Swire urged to speak and vote against local government settlement

    9th February 2017 | News | Claire
  • Dear Hugo

    I am writing to you about the dire position Devon County Council’s social care budget is in.

    This financial year, adult social care is £5m overspent. In reality of course, it is because social care is woefully underfunded following seven years of austerity that has seen the council’s overall budget slashed by more than half.  A completely unsustainable position. And of course your government colleagues intend to deliver yet more swingeing cuts in the years to come.

    You may be aware that in the next financial year, it is proposed that there will be fewer people receiving social care in Devon.

    The risk assessment for Devon County Council’s joint budget scrutiny meeting makes for sobering reading.

    The text includes:
    – – A requirement to reduce the number of clients to achieve budget levels, which will be “challenging”
    – Acknowledgement that the budget cuts would “severely test the capacity of managers at different levels, especially where pressures of essential work cannot be reprioritised without risk to those who receive services”
    – A need for residential and nursing homes to provide sufficient local care and an affordable price

    Here’s the link, see pages 24-26 – http://democracy.devon.gov.uk/documents/s5745/People%20Budget%20Report.pdf

    This is almost certainly bound to cause hardship to the most needy and elderly people in the area – and their families.

    Council tax is proposed to be increased by three per cent and a further two percent in order to deal with the shortfall in budgets. This small funding increase will barely scratch the surface of the huge funding injection that is really required of course.  And yet again people in Devon will be paying higher taxes for fewer services.

    I saw in November that you wrote to the chancellor asking for more money for social care in the Autumn Statement – vitally important and a move I very much support. It was very disappointing to see your request and the requests of many people in the industry, as well as LGA officials, completely ignored. You will recall I wrote to you about both NHS and social care underfunding in October linked to the latest set of proposals for community hospital bed losses.

    With the current NHS crisis and plans to halve the remaining community hospital beds in Eastern Devon, it appears that it has never been more important to adequately fund social care – especially here in East Devon.

    At Devon County Council’s joint budget scrutiny meeting last month it was agreed unanimously that all Devon MPs would be written to asking them to speak against and vote against the House of Commons local government settlement.

    I am adding my voice to those 62 councillors at Devon County Council in urging you to stand by your previous position on social care and speak and vote against the local government settlement when it comes before the House of Commons later this month. 

    If you and the majority of your colleagues opposed these swingeing cuts, it could mean that councils receive more money to fund desperately low social care budgets. Regardless of the outcome, your constituents would appreciate you standing up for them.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Best wishes