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Social Care Costs

Volume 611: debated on Monday 6 June 2016

The spending review provided up to £3.5 billion of funding to help to meet the demographic pressures on social care—more than the £2.9 billion that local government and the directors of adult social services estimated was needed in their submission to the spending review.

Social care in Hull is facing a perfect storm, and GPs tell me that it is starting to impact on hospitals. We have had the deepest cuts in local government since 2010, and the national living wage is adding to costs. Will the Secretary of State accept the clear evidence of a growing funding gap that outstrips the social care levy, and that it is worst in areas of greatest and rising demand?

The hon. Lady never misses a chance to be miserable about Hull, a great city that is on the rise. Hull has benefited to the tune of nearly £7 million a year from the local government settlement—it is one of the biggest gainers in the country. The last time she made that point, the leader of her council wanted not to take what she said at face value, and said:

“I do wish people would stop talking the city down. There is so much going on here…and a lot to look forward to.”

20. I am grateful for the Secretary of State’s visit to Shrewsbury the other week. He will have heard from the council of the big pressures it is under as a result of increasing costs in adult social care services. We have more senior citizens in Shropshire than the national average and the number is growing at a faster rate than the national average. What lessons has he learned from his visit to Shrewsbury, and what further assistance will he give my council to deal with that very important issue? (905282)

I enjoyed my visit to Shrewsbury, as I enjoyed my visit to Hull. One thing that was welcomed in both places was a review of the underlying needs assessment, which has not been changed for many years, to ensure that the underlying pressures are properly reflected in the new settlement that, as a result of the Government’s reforms, comes in when 100% of the business rate is retained by local government.

Clinical commissioning groups in my county of Norfolk have told the county council that they are withdrawing the money from the better care fund that was available for the protection of social care last year, leaving at least a £7.5 million gap. What is the Secretary of State doing in his discussions with the Secretary of State for Health to ensure that social care is protected? The risk of elderly, frail people and disabled people losing out more is very real.

The right hon. Gentleman knows from his experience in the Department of Health how important it is to ensure that the social care system and the healthcare system are joined up. Part of the integration of health and social care is ensuring that people, whether they are NHS patients or cared for by the local authority, have the best care available delivered in the most efficient way.

Unitary councils have been established in that manner—with the health service embedded within them. What evidence is there that combining health and social care means that those services will be delivered more effectively and more efficiently?

We know that where relationships are most embedded and advanced between local authorities in the NHS, people can be confident that they will have the best level of care without falling between the cracks of the two systems. Local government can do that working with the NHS, which is why that has been a prominent feature in some devolution deals.