It is both deeply concerning and financially unsustainable that councils in our region are having to use their emergency reserves to the tune of almost £80m this year in order to cover the ever-increasing costs of care, not least because it begs the question of what will happen when those funds are exhausted.
This is a state of affairs that demands urgent Government action. It has been guilty of a reprehensible degree of buck-passing on social care, with responsibility being dumped on local authorities.
The council tax precept that was levied to fund care has not provided a solution, and places poorer areas at a disadvantage because they are less able to raise funds.
The consequence of this ill thought-out policy is that already hard-pressed local authorities are being forced to cut other services.
The Government needs to acknowledge that social care is a national issue, and one that is inextricably linked to the NHS.
There is currently a disconnect between health and social care, with hospital beds being blocked because there is insufficient provision for looking after the frail and vulnerable once they are well enough to be discharged.
Theresa May’s pledge of an additional £20bn a year for the NHS was welcome, but the Government must face up to the fact that the money will not create the benefits that both staff and patients want unless the issue of social care funding is also addressed.
The Government’s green paper on care, due in the autumn after being delayed last month, offers an opportunity to address the imbalance.
What is clear from local authorities in our region is that a rethink cannot come soon enough.