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Paul Burstow: Implementing our vision for social care

November 5, 2010 2:10 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Much has been said and written about the impact of the Spending Review on social care. A lot of it has been misguided. There have been all sorts of claims and counter claims, which are alarming for older people and unsettling for those who care for them. So let me debunk a few myths for you.

The LGA have suggested that a 26% reduction in council funding from government would mean a £2.2billion drop in care funding, in cash terms, by the final year of this parliament. This is simply not true. Not true because central government funding is only one part of the picture for local government finance - the LGA have omitted council tax from their sums. I haven't heard any local authority talking about 26% cuts to council tax bills - which means a 26% reduction to funding will not mean that spending will fall by anything like the same amount .Their figures also ignore the extra £2billion that the Government has pledged to local councils to support social care. Of this £2billion, £1billion will be made available within the NHS - and we will ensure that mechanisms are in place to ensure that this NHS spending is directed to social care. Add to that the fact that funding in related areas, like the Supporting People grant and Disabled Facilities grants are being shielded from the 26% reduction and the picture starts to look much healthier. Put all together and this settlement will allow councils to meet cost pressures while maintaining people's access to care.

This Spending Review has given us the chance to ensure that local authorities have the resources to protect social care, and maintain high quality for those who depend on them. But it has also given us a platform for reform, and an opportunity to move away from the "business as usual" mentality. That is why we want people to have direct control of the money the state spends on care by using personal budgets to give people more control over their lives and the services they receive. It will also mark the beginning of a new era of integrated personalised services, finally delivering on Labour's promise to incorporate health and social care together.

Building a full partnership between health and social care will allow us to implement our vision for social care. We know all to well that it is a vision that matters hugely to the hundreds of thousands of families who rely on us.

Paul Burstow is the Minister of State for Care Services and was speaking this week at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester