'We have to take it from those who can least afford it' - council chief's fears over new care charge

Cash needed to plug gaps in social care funding is likely to be taken from ‘those who can least afford to pay for it’, town hall chiefs have warned.

By James Harrison
Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 4:45 pm

Finance bosses at South Tyneside Council are working on their spending plans for the 2020/21 financial year, with families braced for council tax bills to rise again.

And government guidelines could add to this, with guidance to councils released before Christmas advising them to add on extra to cover ever increasing care costs.

“We’re depending more and more on council tax, as the grants we receive from the government reduces,” said deputy council leader Ed Malcolm.

“We have the third lowest council tax in the North East and we’re bound by limits on how much we can put it up by, but we also have to remember there’s a two per cent tax imposed by the government, the adult social care precept.

“They said we can have more money for adult social care [from the precept], but we have to take it from those who can least afford to pay for it.”

Coun Malcolm was speaking at this morning’s meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in Committee, where he took questions on spending plans for next year.

Details about potential council tax bills for 2020/21 are not available yet, but are expected to be ready in time for February’s meeting of the ruling cabinet.

Adult social care is available for adults with physical or learning disabilities, or physical or mental illnesses.

This can include support with tasks such as eating, washing, or cleaning.

As well as ‘core’ council tax, which varies according to the band rating of a property, council tax bills also include other ‘precepts’ which contribute to services.

Police and fire services both set precepts for families to pay, although details of what these are likely to be set at next year are not currently available.

Coun Gladys Hobson told the meeting taxpayers had already been hit in the pocket last year, when the council tax precept for homes in the Northumbria Police force area was ‘whacked up’ by more than a fifth, from £110 for a band D property to £134.