Call for care 'meeting the needs of the 21st century' in South Tyneside

Councillors have called for urgent action to help adult social care “meet the needs of the 21st century”.
Councillors said the pandemic had shown it was not just older people who needed adult social careCouncillors said the pandemic had shown it was not just older people who needed adult social care
Councillors said the pandemic had shown it was not just older people who needed adult social care

Due to people living longer with complex conditions, local authorities across the country are facing increased funding pressures for adult social care – which covers services for both elderly and disabled residents.

Adult social care is the biggest area of revenue budget spend for South Tyneside Council with thousands of people benefiting from services.

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In line with a Government levy, 3% of the borough council’s 3.95% council tax rise this April was ringfenced towards the costs of social care.

Councillor Anne HetheringtonCouncillor Anne Hetherington
Councillor Anne Hetherington

Despite temporary emergency funding during the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for services has continued to increase.

At a meeting of borough council on June 25, Labour councillors in South Tyneside launched a motion calling for more funding for adult social care from the government.

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The motion said services should be fully funded centrally to “meet the needs of the 21st century” and to “remove the unprecedented burden” on council taxpayers.

It added that good social care allows residents to live “fuller and more independent lives [and] should not be the second-class citizen of health care.”

Councillor Anne Hetherington, cabinet member for independence and wellbeing on the council, said the current funding arrangements for adult social care were not fit-for-purpose.

“The pandemic seemed to reinforce the belief that social care is predominantly about older people but it’s not,” she said.

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“A significant number of care users are working age adults with disabilities and neither is it all about care homes when many more people receive care in their own homes.

“The foundations of the care system have been weakened by severe financial cuts to local authority budgets and we have a welfare state in the 2020s built on a life expectancy of the 1940s.

“When the NHS was created, life expectancy was much lower and now people with disabilities are living longer and one in four of our babies born today will live to be 100.

“Ageing and all it implies isn’t just going to affect someone else, it will affect us all.

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“We need the 1948 moment which inspired the creation of the NHS to secure the future of adult social care, to support people to live fuller more independent lives.

“Immediate action is needed if we are to build back better post-pandemic with person-centred care that puts people in control of their lives to support them to live the lives they want to lead in their own homes and communities.”

Cllr Hetherington added: “Social care is an inherent local service with councils playing a valuable leadership role.

“Although the opportunity was missed in this year’s Queen’s Speech, it’s not too late to act.

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“We call on the government to act now to value our elderly and disabled people and show them the respect that they deserve for the contribution they have made and can still make to our society to make it richer and more diversely equal.”

The motion won unanimous support at the council meeting and will see councillor Tracey Dixon, leader of the council, write to the Prime Minister to urge him to:

:: Act now to acknowledge the intrinsic value adult social care has to our communities and people and raise its profile as it often gets lost in terms of the wider NHS agenda and focus.

:: Urgently appoint a cabinet minister for adult social care, to stand alone from the current arrangements for health and social care.

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:: Irrevocably embed adult social care funding within core funding, devolved to local authorities and place, to meet the needs of the 21st century.

The motion also asked council to seek the support of South Tyneside’s two MPs and to ask them to raise the issue in Parliament.

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