Councils driven to the edge with pressures of social care – stark warning from senior councillor

“We are in a serious situation and we still may fail. The Government doesn’t want councils to go bust but it will drive them to the edge.”

By Lucy Ashton
Tuesday, 02 July, 2019, 13:22
Coun George Lindars-Hammond

That’s the stark warning from a senior councillor about the challenge of protecting adult social care in the face of immense cuts to funding.

Coun George Lindars-Hammond, the new cabinet member for health and social care, is blunt about the pressures on the service amid drastic cuts from central government.

“Social care pressures are outstripping any grants we receive and there is no plan from the government,” he warned. “We need a long-term solution.”

Coun Lindars-Hammond says Sheffield Council has put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t go bankrupt like Northamptonshire County Council did last year but times are incredibly tough.

“Unlike other areas we have not cut social care money, we have increased it. We have really good people in finance at the council and they are doing a lot of things to ensure this council will continue to provide services 

“We have taken the really hard decisions and been really careful and prudent and made sure we have invested in reducing pressure in the future.

“But austerity has meant £460 millliion worth of cuts since 2011. We are still delivering many services but the truth is social care pressures are going up and up. 

“This is unsustainable. Social care is becoming a greater and greater proportion of our expenditure. 

“Can we reduce more in other areas? Yes we can, but this is a national crisis and the most important thing is to have national investment in social care.”

Coun Lindars-Hammond said that despite the lack of government funding, he needs to take the lead on the situation.

“The story here is that every council, not just Sheffield, is struggling but I have to reduce pressures and look at what we can afford,” he said.

“There is money in the NHS but they are fighting against the tide of pressure too so we need to work together to make sure the money we have in the system in Sheffield is used in the best way.

“We may see more money in December when the new Prime Minister announces their ‘wonderful new funding’ but we need it to be long-term and sustainable.

“I’m not going to reject a pot of money but we need a long-term solution. I can’t deliver if I don’t know what is coming around the corner but I can if I have a long-term funding settlement. 

“We would have much more confidence if the government recognised this was a national crisis and put in the £2 billion investment that’s needed. That would really fix this and stem the rising tide of problems.”