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Adult Social Services

Volume 655: debated on Monday 4 March 2019

This Government have recognised the pressures facing adult social services and have provided councils with access to an additional £10 billion of dedicated funding for adult social care for the three years up to 2019-20.

I thank the Minister for his response. However, 96% of all local authorities told the Local Government Association that there is a major national funding problem in adult social care. Demographics are changing and demand is growing. What are the Government doing to provide long-term sustainable support to local authorities such as Kirklees Council, so that they can deliver vital services to our most vulnerable citizens?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. In the short term, £1 billion of extra funding for social care services was announced in the Budget. In the longer term, the Department of Health and Social Care will soon outline its Green Paper and a longer term sustainable settlement. However, the answer is not just about the amount of money that we spend. Her council is a fantastic example of providing good outcomes for social care by using taxpayer resources prudently. Just last week, it was named a top 10 council for social care.

The Princess of Wales Centre dementia day-care facility, which is based in the neighbouring constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) but serves the whole of Sunderland, recently announced that it will close in June, partly due to the cut in local government funding. What will the Minister do to help to support my constituents and those of my neighbour before the extra funding becomes available? Will he meet me and my colleagues to discuss the matter?

I would be happy to meet the hon. Lady and her colleagues or, indeed, her local council. Obviously, as she just heard me say, the Budget announced an extra £1 billion for social care, which her local authority will be able to use on its own priorities, perhaps including the example that she raised.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Honours were even on Saturday.

I congratulate the Minister on what he has done on adult social care, but one problem is that many people are asset rich but cash poor, and early intervention is required to prevent those people from degrading. What can he do to encourage local authorities to intervene early so that people live a healthier, longer life?

As ever, my hon. Friend makes an excellent point. He is right about the importance of early intervention, whether it is with young families and children or people who are older and frail. The Government recently announced an increase in the disabilities facilities grant, which does exactly what he says and helps people proactively to adapt their homes so that they can stay independent for longer. That is an example of the prevention work that he mentions, and he is right that we should focus on that in future.

Will the Minister join me in commending the excellent work of Conservative-controlled North West Leicestershire District Council? By building the new homes that our country needs and attracting business, investment and jobs, it has managed to freeze council tax since 2010 and it has pledged to freeze council tax for a further four years, if it is successfully re-elected on 2 May.

I praise North West Leicestershire District Council, which I know well. My hon. Friend is a well-established champion of the council and he is right to highlight its focus on creating a pro-growth culture in its area, using the tools at its disposal to drive economic growth, keep taxes low for its taxpayers and provide high-quality local services.

Has the Minister read the letter to the Prime Minister—it was sent last week but published over the weekend—from Health for Care, which is a new coalition of organisations that speak passionately about their view that social care is on the “brink of collapse”? Will he meet me to discuss the coalition’s concerns, the report published by the Health and Social Care Committee, which I chair, and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, our findings and the work that we did with the Citizens’ Assembly?

I praise the work done by both Select Committees in producing some options for the social care Green Paper, and I know that they are being actively considered, as they should be. To the hon. Lady’s broader point, her characterisation is perhaps a little unfair, because good things are happening in social care. The recent publication of the delayed transfer of care statistics showed that they have halved since the peak of a couple of years ago, which shows that good progress is being made.