County council’s political leaders unite over funding plea

West Sussex County Council’s three group leaders have come together to back a campaign calling for more funding for elderly care.

Research by the Local Government Association (LGA) has shown that the rising cost of providing care and support to a growing ageing population, combined with the increasing cost of delivering other statutory responsibilities like social services and concessionary travel, will soak up almost all of council spending.

It warns that by 2020 the money available to fund council services like road maintenance and libraries will have shrunk by 90 per cent in cash terms.

The 28 per cent cut in the amount of money councils receive from central government between 2010/11 and 2014/15 has contributed considerably to this situation. In West Sussex, core funding from Government has been cut from £141.2m in 2010/11 to £108.7m in the current year, a cut of 23 per cent.

West Sussex County Council has thrown its weight behind the LGA’s ‘Show Us You Care’ campaign to secure a system that will meet the needs and expectations of future generation. It is urging residents to write to their MP demanding change. Suggested text can be found on the Council’s website.

Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “This is too important for party politics, which is why we are coming together in an all-party fashion to urge the Government to inject some money into adult social care to ensure we can still provide some of our most popular services across the county.

“It’s important as many people as possible sign up to the campaign by writing a letter to their MP.”

Morwen Millson, group leader for the Liberal Democrats, said: “We are working together to find solutions because we know that, despite the benefits of a longer life for individuals, our rapidly aging society is creating strains on services for older people. We are doing our part, but we also need Government to recognise that there is only so much local authorities can do.”

Brenda Smith, group leader for the Labour Party, said: “The Government needs to recognise that local councils need help with funding adult care. We need a long term funding solution or risk every single local council being able to provide only an extremely limited service.”

Sir Merrick Cockell, LGA Chairman, said: “By the end of the decade, councils may be forced to wind down some of the most popular services they provide unless urgent action is taken to address the crisis in adult social care funding.

“Efficiency savings won’t come close to solving this problem. We need an immediate injection of money into the adult care system to meet rising demand in the short term, alongside a major revision of the way it is paid for and delivered in future.”

As well as an immediate injection of money from the Exchequer to meet rising demand for adult social care in the short term, West Sussex County Council and the LGA believe that a complete overhaul of the system is required.