As 2020 gets into full swing at the council, the budget-setting process draws nearer.
Local authorities must deliver balanced budgets but with funding from central government cut over the last decade it gets harder for us to provide the essential services our residents expect.
One of the biggest financial strains on council budgets is social care. This covers children’s services, social work, support for older people, support for those with illness or disability, for those with mental health problems or learning difficulties, for homeless people and those struggling with addiction, for victims of domestic abuse or neglect, fostering, adoption, working with young offenders and the training and support for carers and social workers.
I recently met with the chief executive of the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group – the CCG – and I am looking forward to working with his team at the NHS to improve our local health and social care services.
The need for high-quality social care here and across the country has never been greater and, with our increasingly ageing population, the demand is growing but so are the costs.
We have a real challenge to deliver high quality social care for the money that is available.
The cost of social care takes up almost half of our council budget. I was disappointed that in the Queen’s speech there was still no plan and no funding package for social care.
This creates a huge burden for local councils whose budgets are being cut despite demand rising. This means we are forced to make cuts elsewhere.
Money is really tight, but we have so much we want to invest in locally. We want to improve our bin services and clean up our streets, we want to support our schools, build more homes and decarbonise our city.
The sad reality is, that the longer the government leaves it before they address the social care crisis, the more our population ages and the more the cost of social care goes up.
We will continue to deliver legal balanced budgets, we will continue to invest in social care and we will continue to be ambitious for our city.
We just urgently need the government to match that ambition and deliver a proper social care plan.
Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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