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19th December 2016

Putting up council tax 'won't solve social care funding problem'

Care Forum Wales chair Mario Kreft, pictured, has warned that the social care sector will collapse unless the Welsh Government invests more money in independently-run care homes and domiciliary care.

He was speaking after the UK Government gave the go-ahead for local authorities in England to raise more money by raising council tax.

Mr Kreft said: "This is a recognition that social care is in crisis but putting up council tax won't come close to solving the problem.

"What's made the situation even more urgent is the UK Government's decision to raise the minimum wage without knowing where the money is coming from."

The dire situation is underlined by the almost weekly closures of independently-run care homes and nursing homes across Wales, according to Mr Kreft.

Domiciliary care providers are also struggling, with more and more of them having to hand back contracts to local councils because they were financially unsustainable, with prices being driven down in some areas by aggressive procurement tactics.

Referring to the UK Government's decision to allow local authorities to raise council tax to pay for social care in England, Mr Kreft said: "Everyone now agrees that social care is right up there at the top of the political agenda. It would appear from what we're learning in England that they are taking on board that something has to be done and quickly.

"It is, however, also clear that just raising the council tax is not the answer. Last year in England 95 per cent of councils used a social care precept and it raised less than three per cent of what councils plan to spend on adult social care, so it's just scratching the surface.

"It may be that allowing local authorities to access more ring-fenced money via council tax or other means may be a part of the answer, but here in Wales we need a tailored solution that's appropriate for us and whatever we do has to be based on partnership, putting aside prejudice and working together.

"What we need in Wales is an integrated health and social care system and extra funding to local councils needs to be ring-fenced to sustain the care sector," he continued.

The need to integrate health and social care was also recently highlighted by an inquiry by the Welsh Assembly Health, Social Care and Sport Committee into 'winter preparedness'. The report recommended that the independent sector needed to be part of the solution which chimed with the message from Care Forum Wales. Read our story on this report here.

Read the full story on UK Government's council tax rises and the Welsh reaction to England council tax proposals.

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