FRUSTRATED councillors on both sides of the political divide are again urging Government to explain how local authorities will fund social care in the years ahead.

The Government announced it would release a green paper – a new document with policy ideas for debate by Parliament – outlining how social care should be funded back in March 2017.

It should have been published that summer – but councils across England are still waiting to hear how they will be expected to fund social care more than two years later.

At a Cheshire East Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday where members discussed funding plans for health and social care, Labour Cllr Jill Rhodes called on the Government to hurry up.

The cabinet member for public health and corporate services said: “Without the long-awaited green paper councils have no long-term basis for their financial planning and no guarantee of high-quality care for residents.

“It is time the Government brought forward the long-awaited legislation to properly allow councils to give high-quality care for their residents.”

Winsford Guardian:

The comments came as CEC’s cabinet discussed how they were set to spend a £7 million grant from Government – known as the Improved Better Care Fund (IBCF) – in 2019-20.

A report presented to cabinet highlighted that there is ‘no guarantee’ the grant would continue from 2020-21.

Cllr Rhodes told cabinet the Government had recently suggested there would be funding for 2020-21 – but it would partly be covered by another two per cent rise in the council tax precept for adult social care.

Her frustration was shared by Cllr Janet Clowes, leader of CEC’s Conservative opposition, who served as cabinet member for adult social care and integration before May’s election.

She said: “We do need that green paper to come forward and we have consistently lobbied Government to make sure that comes forward.

“So what I would ask of this administration is to continue that work and continue lobbying Government to bring it forward as quickly as possible.

Winsford Guardian:

“This is a national issue, and whilst we are doing reasonably well this year at CEC, we have to be alert to that future risk.”

CEC can use £7.8 million in IBCF money to improve care, advice and efficiency in the health and social care system over the next year after having more than £800,000 remaining from last year’s fund.

More than £6.2 million of the cash will be spent on commissioning a new service with extra care beds, specialist provision for people with complex needs and care at home services.

A further £509,000 will go towards winter funding for local NHS services – but Labour Cllr Dorothy Flude, cabinet member for children and families, is unsure the cash will be enough.

“The hospital hasn’t actually seen a reduction in people being admitted through the summer period, so we’ve got some real issues to deal with if we have a really desperate winter,” she said.

READ > Council to consider action to tackle parking on pavements

Other schemes will include increased weekend capacity for social workers, an electronic call monitoring system and additional staff to support ‘discharge to assess’ initiatives.