LAs : Financial Meltdown - Nationwide / Support Services CUTS : Council Tax Rises / Arrears

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
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Family carers receiving less help from councils, report shows.

Family carers are propping up the NHS but are being let down.

Family carers who look after elderly relatives and sick children are receiving less help from councils even though the number of such carers is rising, NHS figures reveal.

Last year, The Social Market Foundation calculated that there are 7.6 million people in the UK providing unpaid care for a relative.

That figure is one million more than in 2005 and is one aspect of the care crisis engulfing the UK.

However, the number of family carers supported or assessed by councils fell by more than 2 per cent in 2018.

Unpaid care

With Britain’s ageing population on the rise, so too is the number of people providing unpaid care to relatives set to increase.

Since 2014 local authorities have enhanced legal duties to assess the support needs of a wider range of carers. Those who meet the criteria should be given a support plan that can include direct financial payments and council-funded services.

But NHS Digital’s own analysis shows that in 2017-18, a total of 360,310 carers were supported or assessed by local authorities during that year. That is a 2.4 per cent fall from 2016-17.

The figures will be presented by Professor Sue Yeandle of Sheffield University at a Social Market Foundation/Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) event tomorrow discussing Britain’s growing army of unpaid family carers. Care Minister, Caroline Dinenage will also attend.


Professor Yeandle, one of Britain’s leading authorities on care, said: "Carers - the backbone of our care and support system - face mounting pressures; some are desperate. Good local services, regular breaks, and support to navigate the system can really help, but funding pressures on councils mean too few get the help they need.

"Urgent action is needed now to avoid further harm".

In 2016, Age UK estimated that there are 2.3 million carers over 65 who provide family care for a relative; 55 per cent of them had a long-standing illness or disability.

Surveys have shown that long-term caring among older carers aged 50 or over, is associated with reduced life satisfaction, a decline in the carer’s quality of life and higher levels of self-reported depression.
Some councils' school transport costs nearly as high as child social care.

Councils in England warn provision of home-to-school transport is under threat due to unsustainable costs.

Councils in England have warned that home-to-school transport, on which many children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) depend, is under threat because of “unsustainable” costs and insufficient funding.

A report commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and County Councils Network has revealed that councils are spending more on home-to-school transport than they spend on children’s centres, family support or youth services.

In some areas where the costs of transport are disproportionately high, often because of long distances in rural settings, the LGA says the school transport budget is almost as large as the entire children’s social care budget.

According to the LGA, 550,000 young people currently receive free home-to-school transport each year, of which 145,000 are pupils with Send whose transport accounts for 69% of total expenditure. New analysis shows that annual costs have increased by £66m in the last four years and could rise by a further £127m to reach £1.2bn by 2024.

One of the key drivers for the increase in costs is that children with Send are increasingly being sent further afield to specialist schools because of a shortage of suitable places closer to home.

Campaigners have warned that cash-strapped councils are already making “ill-considered” cuts to home-to-school transport, prompting safeguarding concerns. In some cases, they say, disabled children with significant health needs are having to wait at pick-up points in freezing weather or are being asked to travel alone, when they really need support.

Gillian Doherty, the founder of the parents’ campaign network Send Action, said some are being asked to travel for unacceptable amounts of time as transport routes are changed to save money. Others have lost their transport entirely despite still being of compulsory school age, meaning their parents have had to give up work to transport them.

The LGA report found that councils had already cut discretionary transport spending by 27%, reducing the number of children receiving free home-to-school transport by more than 10,000 in five years. “Despite these efforts, many continue to have to tighten eligibility even further or strip back discretionary support altogether,” the LGA warns.

There has been a 27% increase in pupils being placed in special schools since 2014 as mainstream schools – faced with funding and accountability pressures, plus curriculum changes – feel less able to offer places to children with Send.

Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Free school transport is a lifeline for many pupils and their families but it must be adequately funded if councils are to meet their legal duties to all children and young people.

“While a special school may be the right setting for a particular child, it is also vital that mainstream schools are incentivised and rewarded for offering a high quality and suitable education for children with special needs.”

Doherty said: “We agree that ideally children with Send should be able to attend schools within their community. However, for this to happen, councils and the government must invest in the specialist provision that children need to thrive in local schools.”

The government recently announced a review of Send provision and has pledged additional funding.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want to make sure that children are able to access the free home to school transport they are entitled to, which is why we recently consulted on a revised version of the statutory home to school transport guidance. We will consider the recommendations outlined in this report alongside our response.”
Poor urban councils bear majority of Tory funding cuts, study shows.

Research finds some metropolitan authorities have £100 million a year less to spend.

Drastic cuts to local government funding have seen the UK’s most deprived metropolitan areas “shoulder the burden of austerity” while some more prosperous counties have flourished, according to new research.

Analysis by the TUC and public service union Unison of central government funding for local councils in England since 2010 highlights a yawning chasm between urban and rural areas. It shows that , overall, councils in England are spending £7.8bn a year less on key services than they did in 2010, which equates to a cut of £150m a week.

The analysis reveals that the 20 councils with the biggest funding gaps are overwhelmingly metropolitan boroughs in London and the north of England. Of these 18 are controlled by Labour; only one is Conservative-run.

In contrast, the 20 councils with the smallest funding cuts are overwhelmingly all Conservative-controlled county councils. Of these, 16 are controlled by the Conservatives and just two are Labour-run.

The analysis – using methodology employed by both the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Centre for Cities – found that Labour-run Salford Council is spending 38% – or £99m a year – less on key local services than a decade ago. That works out to £479 a year less per resident.

Camden Council, also Labour-run, is spending 32% – £103m a year – less than in 2010. That works out as £620 a year less per resident.

In contrast, Conservative-run Surrey Council is spending 7% – £54m a year – more on key local services than in 2010, which works out at £11 a year more per resident.

Wiltshire Council, a Tory authority, is spending 8%, or £27m a year, more on key local services than in 2010, which works out at £16 a year more per resident.

The Local Government Association estimates that in the past eight years, councils in general have lost 60p out of every £1 the government used to provide prior to the funding cuts. This has left councils increasingly reliant on raising income through council tax, business rates and other charges and fees. Urban councils in more deprived areas have found this task more difficult than their rural counterparts.

“Poorer parts of England have suffered most from the Conservatives’ local government cuts,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady. “By slashing central government funding, they have made deprived areas shoulder the burden of austerity. We need fair and sustainable funding for all of our communities. Key services have been cut to the bone.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis agreed: “Local services hold communities together, but nine years of austerity has put paid to that. We’ve seen libraries shut, care visits reduced, allotments and parks sold off, youth centres closed, subsidised bus services scrapped and public conveniences axed. The government’s funding squeeze has forced councils to charge residents more, reduce key services or cut them altogether. Now the cupboard is virtually bare and some local authorities can no longer provide the legal minimum.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said it could not comment as it is currently in election purdah.
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