Senior Sunderland councillor questions Boris Johnson's social care plans

A senior Sunderland councillor has questionned the levels of support for the social care sector announced by Boris Johnson and plans to raise National Insurance to pay for it.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 5:41 pm

While the City Council’s Cabinet has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of extra funding for the Health and Social Care Sector, Cabinet

Secretary Coun Paul Stewart says he is ‘disappointed’ with the level of support, where the money would initally be spent and the way that the changes will be funded.

The plans were set out by the Prime Minister in Parliament on Tuesday, September 7, and were debated by MPs on Wednesday.

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Coun Paul Stewart

Mr Johnson has opted to raise national insurance by 1.25 percentage points from April 2022. The Government hopes this will provide an extra £12 billion a year for the NHS and adult social care services.

"Adult Social Care is a key part of the services that we deliver as a council, with a total annual budget for the current financial year of £163.358million,” said Coun Stewart.

"We have repeatedly highlighted the financial challenges for Sunderland, and all councils, in delivering the high-quality services our clients deserve – the quality of which in Sunderland has been confirmed by the Care Quality Commission.

"However, the financial position is worsening each year following more than a decade of austerity and funding cuts.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak,during a media briefing in Downing Street on the long-awaited plan to fix the social care system. Photo: Toby Melville/PA Wire

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The council had been hit hard by years of budget cuts, he said: "Adjusted for inflation, we have lost over one third of our Core Spending Power, which is the Government’s own measure of how much we have to spend on vital council services.

"The reduction in funding provided by Government is much higher than that – more than half has been lost in the last decade.

"On the face of it, the announcement yesterday is good news. But as is often the case, when the detail is looked at, the position is less positive.

"Most of the funding initially will benefit the health sector rather than social care. The support that will be given to individuals – while welcome – is likely to see our costs increase as a council.

"We are yet to see how councils will be funded for these changes and the proposed additional funding for the sector falls well short of what we estimate we will need to maintain services.

"Finally, the introduction of the National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for individuals and employers is an additional tax, some of which will fall on families already struggling."

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