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Challenges faced by adult social care are 'unprecedented but not insurmountable', says council

PUBLISHED: 17:28 19 July 2019 | UPDATED: 20:32 19 July 2019

Suffolk County Council is near the bottom of the league for social care spending. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Suffolk County Council is near the bottom of the league for social care spending. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

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In 2014 the council paid £7,036 a head for people needing social care - putting it at 138th in a league table for the 150 authorities responsible for social services.

Rebecca Hopfensperger. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILRebecca Hopfensperger. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

That was a fall from the £7,402 it paid three years earlier. Some councils in London paid up to £30,000 a year per head for social care.

The Salvation Army is a major national provider of care homes and social support - but warned that government funding rules meant rural areas like Suffolk were missing out.

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant, of The Salvation Army, said: "Rural local authorities have been set up to fail with this flawed formula and it urgently needs revision.

"People are living longer and the population is ageing, the adult social care bill is rising but the local authority funding streams aren't enough to cover the demand, especially in areas where there are not many businesses or people to tax.

"The Government must prioritise its spending and properly fund adult social care. This Salvation Army analysis proves that local authorities are being asked to achieve the impossible. Put simply; you can't squeeze local businesses for more tax if your local businesses are struggling.

"The Salvation Army's residential care homes see the impact of this funding flaw every day. We are caring for people who don't have the savings to pay for their own care and stepping in where the council can't pay for the care."

Rebecca Hopfensperger, Cabinet member for adult community care at Suffolk County Council, said: "I welcome this report by the Salvation Army.

"It highlights the challenges that local authorities are facing with unprecedented demand on care systems and significant financial restraint. However, with all figures it is important that we do not accept them all on face value.

"The data used in this report from 2011 and 2014 does not take account of more recent developments including the Better Care Fund which currently contributes £18m from health partners towards social care costs and a further £28m from Government.

"There is also the social care precept that brings in approximately £23m and which did not exist back in 2014.

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"This year we will spend an additional £5.1m on adult social care. This will bring our entire budget spend in the sector to £242m - an increase of £45.5m since 2014.

"While Suffolk is a rural county and our figures reflect the similarities with neighbouring counties, we have a detailed and thorough transformation programme that seeks to manage the challenges we face. One of the ways we must manage growing demand is by reducing the number of people needing long term care.

"We believe that it is in everyone's best interests if, instead of jumping to assistance, we carefully review the needs of the person and where possible encourage minimum support from us.

"We know that keeping someone as independent for as long as possible has a much greater impact on the recovery time of that person.

"The challenges we face today are unprecedented, but they are by no means insurmountable. We will continue to evolve and grow when and where we face these demands - and we will continue to deliver the highest standard of care to the most vulnerable people in our society."

Labour spokeswoman for adult care Helen Armitage said: "The problem is that the rurality of Suffolk pushes up the cost of care regardless of need.

"Hopefully the new model will provide better care provision and there will be lots of safeguards in place to monitor efficiency and quality of care, but current funding levels mean that these changes will only go so far.

"The new model should provide better care than previously, but it won't give the best available because there simply isn't enough money. Only time will tell whether our most vulnerable residents will feel the benefits from these changes, but I really hope so and I will be keeping a watchful eye on the new methods of working."

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