The £5bn council and social care shortfall that matters more to many than Brexit – The Yorkshire Post says

Care of the elderly is contributing to a �5bn shortfall in local council budgets.
Care of the elderly is contributing to a �5bn shortfall in local council budgets.
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IT took the leaked Operation Yellowhammer dossier on the risks of a no-deal Brexit to lay bare the financial fragility of adult social care provision.

Rising costs could see some smaller providers go out of business within “two to three months” and “four to six months for larger ones” according to a Downing Street document which Brexiteers dismissed as being out of date and the revenge of the Remainers.

Sheffield MP Clive Betts has headed a Parliamentary inquiry into local government finance.

Sheffield MP Clive Betts has headed a Parliamentary inquiry into local government finance.

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Yet this financial crisis pre-dates Brexit and the deep divisions at Westminster which have totally compromised decision-making.

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It is fuelled, in part, by a decade of Government-imposed financial restraints coinciding with a sharp rise in demand for care services – whether it be vulnerable children or the elderly.

Boris Johnson pledged to prioritise social care when he became Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson pledged to prioritise social care when he became Prime Minister.

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The consequence is a £5bn shortfall, according to a Parliamentary inquiry headed by Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, which will now be compounded by the Government delaying its planned Comprehensive Spending Review for the next 12 months until the impact of Brexit is clearer.

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This effectively delays difficult decisions, from reforming council tax to determining the best way to fund social care in the longer term, with the onus placed on local authorities to muddle through in the meantime.

“The battle to meet ever-increasing demand for social care has left few further sources of revenue to divert towards it and will now need a dedicated funding solution,” says Mr Betts who heads the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee at Parliament.

In fairness, Boris Johnson acknowledged the urgency of the situation when he spoke to The Yorkshire Post last week and promised to work on a cross-party basis. Yet it is still unclear how – and when – he intends to proceed. Perhaps he’d like to clarify this for the benefit of all those people at the care system’s mercy and who view Brexit as being of secondary significance.