North Yorkshire County Council welcomes the chance to have a say on the future of adult social care in England following the Government’s announcement of a forthcoming Green Paper.
The county council faces enormous pressure in the delivery of social care services and has long called on the Government to establish sustainable funding and organisational arrangements.
Despite £5m of additional funding for adult social care raised through the 2 per cent social care precept in the council tax, the pressures are unrelenting and the county council is this year expecting a £3m overspend.
The Government’s Green Paper, to be published next summer, will set out major changes to adult social care to ensure a more effective and sustainable system.
North Yorkshire has protected adult social care spending to a greater extent than many other councils and now spends 42 per cent of its budget on the social care of older people and vulnerable adults. The county council continues to prioritise spending in all areas that deal with vulnerable people, both young and old, but the demands on an increasingly stretched budget continue to grow.
Currently there are 140,000 people in North Yorkshire (out of a 600,000 population) aged over 65 of which 13.5 per cent (19,000) are aged over 85 –projected to increase dramatically in future years. National studies show that North Yorkshire is already at a place where the rest of the country will be in 2020, with demand for services and demographic trends five years ahead of the national average
“We urgently need a long-term and sustainable solution for the care of older and vulnerable people”, said County Councillor Michael Harrison, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration.
“North Yorkshire is calling on the Chancellor, when he delivers his budget, to provide fairer funding for rural authorities – given the higher numbers of older people; and the higher costs of delivering services in a large rural county with sparse populations.
“The Chancellor’s March announcement of an extra £19m over three years to support joint work with the NHS and to stabilise the care market is welcome but needs to become a long-term funding commitment.
““The social care precept has also helped to give some short-term relief but this only goes part way to meet our cost pressures.
“We therefore back the Government’s review of council funding and we welcome the chance to respond to the Government’s Green Paper on adult social care, setting out the particular challenges we face.
“The County is fortunate to have high employment levels but this makes it very difficult to attract people to work in the social care sector, whether that’s in the County Council or in voluntary or independent sector care organisations. Ensuring that the care sector is an attractive place to work is one of our top priorities.”
Richard Webb, North Yorkshire’s Corporate Director for Health and Adult Services said while the focus on older people in the Green Paper was welcome, issues for carers and for younger adults with disabilities and mental health also needed to be addressed. He said: “These are issues which also impact on many people within North Yorkshire. As many as 1 in 10 people in the county (more than the population of a town the size of Scarborough) cares for an older or disabled relative or friend.”
He said the county was developing services with an emphasis on prevention, helping people to live more independent, fulfilling lives for as long as possible. Flagship programmes like Stronger Communities, Living Well and Extra Care programmes support people by strengthening their social networks and by enabling them to live in their own homes in the heart of their communities but with care and support when needed.
“We continue to invest in prevention to help people to have a better quality of life and to keep costs down,” he added, “but funding pressures mean that even this work will be squeezed without fundamental changes to the adult social care system.”