Sheffield MP Clive Betts criticises Government over social care funding

Clive Betts criticised the Government for its plans to increase tax to fund health and social care.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 3:21 pm

The MP for Sheffield South East raised the issue in Parliament during a debate on a recently announced National Insurance increase, warning that the funding fell well short of what was needed to tackle the deepening care crisis.

He said the estimated funding gap for social care was between £2.5 and £4 billion a year and the service will be destroyed if this is not dealt with.

The increase is expected to raise £36 billion over the next three years, of which £5.4 billion will be allocated to social care over that time.

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Clive Betts MP.

Mr Betts announced the select committee on housing, communities and local government, which he chairs, will conduct an inquiry into social care.

Speaking after the debate, he said: “The Government are asking my constituents over and over again to pay increased council tax through their own abandoning of local authorities through cuts to funding, often for care services they are not receiving while the other services they use are cut to pieces. They have already said that further support for local authorities will be made at the spending review. And what are they saying about the spending review? That this increase will be covered by council tax increases. “Just read the Government’s own words ‘we will make sure local authorities have access to sustainable funding at the spending review’, but at the same time they expect ‘demographic and unit costs pressures be met through council social precept’. It simply will not. They cannot rely on a regressive council tax that is unable to fund the gap needed to give us a social care system we deserve, nor can they expect this unfair levy against working families to plug the gap in funding. In three years’, time we will be in the same situation, if not worse, because this plan does not work.”This year, Sheffield Council had to increase its tax by 1.99 per cent with a three per cent increase in adult social care precept.

Its overview and scrutiny management committee formally noted its criticism of the Government for a failure to deliver sustainable funding for local government and in particular adult social care.

At the time, councillor Terry Fox, now leader of the council, said: “This government is loading the burden on the back of hard-working families in our city and that is the issue with this. Local taxation puts the burden away from them and onto organisations and councils like ourselves and then we are having to make those cuts.”

But the Government described the funding as “biggest catch-up programme in the history of the NHS and reform the adult social care system”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “You can’t fix the Covid backlogs without giving the NHS the money it needs. You can’t fix the NHS without fixing social care, you can’t fix social care without removing the fear of losing everything to pay for it, and you can’t fix health and social care without long-term reform. The plan I am setting out … will fix all of these problems together.”