Earlier this week I went to a meeting of the East Midlands Council (a group made up of political leaders of all parties from across the region) where we were addressed by the Conservative leader of Warwickshire County Council who is also the Local Government Association’s spokesperson on Adult Social Care. She spoke about the crisis in social care and didn’t hold back on her criticism of current Government policy saying it was “essential for new funding for Adult Social Care” and that “current plans do not go far enough and the scale of the problem demands bold thinking”.
It is gratifying to see that there is a consensuses developing across councillors from across the country of all political persuasions, and that the mainstream media are now taking up this issue because the country really is on the edge of a catastrophe with the whole system on the edge of collapse.
She went on to criticise Conservative Surrey County Council for negotiating their supposed ‘sweetheart deal’ with the Government by blackmailing them over their proposed council tax referendum, and said that council’s “need to stick together” on this issue to keep the pressure on central Government to come up with a practical plan to deal with this issue which we all know is also helping to plunge the NHS into crisis.
A recent report from the National Audit Office states quite clearly that Government policy has failed to bring in the expected savings and the number of people stuck in expensive hospital beds because when there is no medical need, because they have no suitable care available to them in the community, has gone up. This is absolutely true in Northamptonshire with Kettering General is almost at breaking point and Social Care services run by the County Council are unable to cope with the financial pressure they are under and increasing demand from an increasingly elderly population.
The truth is this is a mess of the Government's own making. Their half half-hearted attempts to get the NHS and local councils to work together in an attempt to save the NHS money have completely backfired because of them cutting funding to council’s which has simply led to more and more pressures and extra costs to the NHS. What we need is a properly integrated system that does not rely on the instability of the private market and is funded properly in a way that is transparent and understood by the public.
Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.