- Fund needed services now
Eric Segal, East Kent Socialist Party
Jeremy Hunt, in a masterful understatement, said: “I think, having been responsible for health and social care, that some of the cuts in social care did go too far.”
Social care is the day-to-day support given to people who need extra help because of old age, disability or other health conditions.
Since the financial crash there have been £7.7 billion cuts to adult social-care budgets. And a further £700 million of cuts are planned this year.
What does this mean in practice? Social care for people with HIV in Kent was cut in 2014 leaving victims of this devastating disease without any social support.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Care has commented on the government’s record in social care: “The system is not only failing financially, it is failing people.” Homecare closures have increased by 113% and impacted 7,019 people in 2018-19.
Two thirds of adult-social-services directors think the cuts can’t be met this year nor do they think they can continue to meet statutory duties. Since 2010, the grants councils in England receive from central government have been cut by half, and their overall spending power by just under a third.
Spending on adult social care had already fallen by 10% by 2013. As a result, councils have been spending a growing proportion of their budgets on social care.
Local authorities spent 34% of their budget for public services on adult social care in 2009-10. By 2017-18, this was 41%.
According to the Times newspaper, local authorities control budgets totaling £114 billion, and last year were sitting on £21 billion of non-ring fenced reserves.
Councils have the power to fight back against cuts.
History shows us that socialist-led Labour councils, like Liverpool in the 1980s, together with the trade unions have the power to stop cuts through mass campaigns against austerity.
Councils should refuse to make cuts. Instead they should use reserves and borrowing powers to give them time to build a mass campaign to win the stolen money back.
Together with a Corbyn-led Labour government armed with socialist policies to begin the process of rebuilding our welfare state and the services we need.