29 January 2017

Responding to Conservative led Staffordshire County Council plans to raise Council Tax by 4.95% this year to pay for the funding gap for social care, Councillor Susan Woodward (Burntwood North Lichfield division) Leader of the Opposition Labour Group said,

“We all know the enormous pressures on social care but increasing Council Tax to this level isn’t the answer. The Conservatives would need to raise Council Tax by 15% (just as is being proposed via a referendum in Tory-controlled Surrey County Council) to get anywhere near filling the gaping hole. My concern is that this hike in Council Tax hits those on limited incomes far harder and takes no account whatsoever of ability to pay.

“The blame must also lie with the Conservative Government which refuses to admit we have a crisis in social care. Across the country, the gap in social care funding will be £2.6 billion by 2019 with £1.3 billion required immediately to shore up the system. This is causing a huge knock on effect on the NHS. Every day we are seeing the impact on A&Es and on the blocking of hospital beds by those who need support before being discharged.

“There is consensus across councils of all political colours in England asking the Government to act swiftly but, so far, they’ve just buried their head in the sand. Blame must lie too with the Conservative leadership at Staffordshire County Council as they’ve been unwilling to press their Government on the financial pressures they face and have not made changes to the way social services are delivered soon enough” said Cllr Woodward.

“We need social care to be properly integrated with the NHS”, said Councillor Charlotte Atkins (Leek South division) Deputy Leader of the Labour Group “but instead local authorities are being required to provide these essential social services while their budgets have been slashed by the Government.

“In Staffordshire, the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan published last month talks about transforming local health services but the focus is on reducing NHS deficits by closing down community hospital beds. That will only make matters worse as there is no new money to pay for social care. The pressures on the NHS can only be resolved if we have a properly funded social care system. Raising Council Tax higher and higher will not resolve the problem. Our responsibility is to look after our most vulnerable citizens. The Government must recognise that and provide the resources we so desperately need” said Cllr Atkins.

Susan Woodward h 01543 304711 m 07814 144047
Charlotte Atkins Group Press Officer h 01538 371188 m 07814 144074

Labour rejects unacceptable Conservative hike of 4.95% in Council Tax