Social care funding: a conversation

15 Dec 16

PF was recently granted privileged access to Whitehall discussions ahead of the local government finance settlement announcement


Social care, shmocial care… why can’t people look after each other?

The councils say we’ve put up the minimum wage and taken away their grant and the number of old people is going up and…

Yes yes, but if people look after each other, there’s no need to pay anyone.

But Simon says it’s a problem for the NHS.

I see. Why didn’t you say? What do you suggest?

Have you heard of the Better Care Fund?

The Bit of Spare Bung? Can’t say I have…

It’s money to help social care and health take joint action to benefit the whole health and care system. We’re putting it up, but we’re making them wait until 2020.

Isn’t it dreadful how people just don’t appreciate things these days unless they have to wait? All that online instant gratification. And no one under 40 has the slightest understanding of apostrophes…

Sorry Minister, but I was going to ask: do you think we should bring that forward?

Whose money is it?

Well, it’s a bit too complicated to explain, but the plan was to use the councils’ own money, when changes to New Homes Bonus come through. If they get it early, it would be our money for a while.

I don’t like the sound of that. Can’t we give them their own money?

Well, there is the council tax.

I don’t think my voters like paying that. Every year they complain to me about it going up. They never complain that way about VAT. What is it about councils?

True, that’s why we’ve said you can’t put it up much unless everyone votes to do so in a referendum.

Ha! Hardly likely, is it?

No, Minister - so we’ve made an exception for social care. We’ve said council tax can be increased by 2% per year to pay specifically for that, whether people like it or not.

I can’t see that being popular. But anyway, what’s the problem in that case?

The councils claim that isn’t nearly enough.

And you say Simon isn’t happy?

No. So we wondered about allowing 4% instead of 2%.

4%, eh?  Quite a lot.

How about 3%, then, Minister?

Yes, but every year?

The pressures do go up every year. Still, maybe just for a couple of years, then back to 2%?

I’m not sure I like that either, just ahead of an election. How about the same 6% over three years, but it’s 3% - 3% - 0% instead of 2% - 2% - 2%?

I suppose we could say that. It wouldn’t be much though…

You think it might sound a bit mean?

I mentioned the New Homes Bonus. You could divert a bit of that now from district councils, who mainly get it, to the social service authorities. That wouldn’t cost the government anything, but would reinforce your determination to act on the concerns.

Yes, that sounds better. It isn’t more of our money. It isn’t even more of their money. They just get their own money slightly early or slightly reallocated. And yet everyone is happy! Doubly happy!!

Very good, Minister, I’ll set the wheels in motion.

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