MINISTERS are being “complacent” about radical changes to care for the elderly taking place as councils make huge cuts to their budgets, according to MPs.
A new report warns that councils are facing a funding shortfall of up to £4.3bn by 2020 when it comes to meet the cost of adult social care while also being ordered to move to a new system of ‘personal budgets’.
The change is supposed to give people who need care more control over the kind of help they need.
Today’s report from the Public Accounts Committee welcomes the move towards personal budgets but questions whether people will see the benefits when major savings are being made.
Chancellor George Osborne last year gave councils the power to raise an extra two per cent from council tax bills to spend on social care.
But the committee’s report describes the Department of Health’s response to concerns about the rising costs of social care as “complacent”.
PAC chairwoman Meg Hillier said: “The need for adult social care is increasing but in recent years the amount spent on such care by English local authorities has fallen in real terms.
“Against this backdrop there are clearly risks in pursuing new approaches to providing care. Personal budgets have great potential but the interests of users are paramount and must be protected.”
Yorkshire councils have repeatedly warned that the rising demand for elderly care is swallowing up an ever greater share of their shrinking budgets as the Government simultaneously reduces local government funding.
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “One of the hidden effects of austerity is it’s damaging impact on social care.
“Almost 65 per cent of Leeds City Council’s budget is now spent on adults social care and children’s services. This is a figure that goes up every year as we stretch our budget to try to protect vital services from the impact of central Government cuts.
“Demand for social care continues to increase yet public services that might prevent demand, such as those funded by public health budgets, continue to face significant cuts.
“The public health budget in Leeds was cut by £2.8m last year, with a further £3.9m cut this year.”
Yorkshire councils are also seeing their care costs rise as a result of the introduction of the national living wage earlier this year.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Through the Care Act, we have put personalisation at the heart of care to give people more choice, control and flexibility.
“Personalised care and its costs vary from person to person and local authorities are responsible for ensuring people get the right care.
“We are giving local authorities more money for social care - up to £3.5billion by 2019/20 - and working across Government to make sure care providers have strong contingency plans in the current challenging market.”