Social care crisis must not be 'dumped' on council tax payers, says Labour

Ministers may raise the council tax social care precept
Ministers may raise the council tax social care precept

Labour has accused the Government of trying to "dump" the social care crisis onto council tax payers, instead of providing funding for it from Westminster.

In a Commons debate the party said letting local authorities increase the council tax they can take for social care, represented a failure to provide central funding in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Reports on Monday suggested ministers are already considering allowing an increase in the council tax social care precept from 2 per cent to 5 per cent.

Shadow care minister Barbara Keeley said: "This crisis in social care has been made by this Government, due to £5bn being cut from adult social care budgets."

She added: "Can the care minister tell us in his response why health ministers do not stand up for vulnerable and older people in this country, and why they don't fight harder to get extra, vital funding for social care."

Labour former chief whip Dame Rosie Winterton also said leaving councils to find the money needed to fill the funding gap would be unfair, arguing that: "A one per cent rise in council tax in Doncaster raises 21 per cent less than a council in the Prime Minister's constituency.

"Surely that means that the problem is being pushed on to the areas that can least afford it?"

Tory former minister Justin Tomlinson urged the Government to look at the idea of increasing "flexibility" in the setting of the social care precept, but Health Minister David Mowat refused to be drawn on whether the Government would do it.

While acknowledging the system was under strain, Mr Mowat pointed to the introduction of the social care precept and the better care fund, which he said would increase spending by as much as five per cent in real terms by 2020.

He added that councils who better integrated health and social care had far fewer delayed transfers of patients out of hospital, while the better care fund redistributed funding between richer and poorer areas.

"Any system would benefit from higher budgets, and social care is no exception," said Mr Mowat.

"But quality matters too. Today is not a budget statement, nor a local government settlement."

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