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£10m a year more for social care

Social care prioritised in Wales: Rebecca Evans

AN EXTRA £10 million a year

of new funding will help ensure the social care sector is strong and sustainable for the future, Minister for Social Services and Public Health Rebecca Evans has announced. The new investment will form

part of a three-way agreement to be established between the Welsh Government, local government and social care employers to work together to create a more stable social care workforce. The Welsh Government funding

will help meet the extra costs associated with the introduction of the national living wage. It is in addition to the extra £25m for social care, which was announced in the draft 2017-18 Budget in October. Further funding to support social

care in 2017-18 will be available as the maximum weekly charge for domiciliary care rises from £60 to £70. Rebecca Evans, Minister for

Social Services and Public Health, said: “In Wales, we have prioritised social care as a sector of national strategic importance. “Tens of thousands of people

rely on these vital services every day. We know that the sector is crucial to the effective running of the wider healthcare system, which is why we are supporting the integration of health and social care through our £60m Intermediate Care Fund. “We have engaged with our social

care partners to understand the issues facing the sector – the financial impact of implementing the UK Government’s national living wage has emerged as a primary concern. “I am today confirming the Welsh

Government will provide a further £10m a year to help manage the impact of the national living wage. This will also support work to create a fully registered workforce by 2022.

“This investment underpins a joint

commitment between partners – we will provide funding, local authorities will invest in service provision and employers will create a more valued workforce, reducing the high turnover in staff currently experienced.” The Minister also announced that

the maximum amount people can be charged for homecare and other non- residential care will increase from £60 a week to £70 from April 2017. The uplift will complement

the extra £10m-a-year investment, ensuring care across Wales continues to be of good quality. The rise reflects the need to invest in domiciliary care and takes account of inflation over the two-year period that the current £60 maximum charge has been in place. It will raise more than £4m a year in

additional income for local authorities to use to tackle pressures in the social care sector, including financial pressures caused by the introduction of the national living wage. The Minister added: “Alongside

our recurrent £10m investment, I have also been considering the maximum charge for domiciliary care. I believe the time is now right to uplift it. “Taken

together, these

announcements will mean millions of pounds more are invested in social care every year. This will ensure we all benefit from a strong, sustainable sector that is fit for the future.” Cllr Huw David, WLGA Spokesperson on Social Care and Health, said: “We warmly welcome the additional £10m to assist with funding the implementation of the national living wage for care workers. Equally, the decision to raise the maximum charge for domiciliary care from £60 to £70 is a beneficial step in the right direction and it is the view of the WLGA that it will need to increase further in future years to help cover

some of the extra costs. “Over the next period, WLGA look

forward to working with the Minister on creating a sustainable financial framework for local government that addresses the massive current social care challenges. The respective policy positions in England and Wales on this are very different. Welsh Government recognise the vital importance of preventative services which this statement confirms.” Welsh Conservatives have

welcomed the Welsh Government’s £10m boost to social care funding, but said it 'exposed the inadequacy' of the original budget allocation. Suzy Davies AM, Shadow

Secretary for Social Services, reacted to the Minister for Social Service’s announcement questioning whether the extra money would be sufficient in putting to bed any threats of service closures. Ms Davies said: “Any additional

contribution to social care funding is to be welcomed, given that it is one of the most important challenges now confronting society. “This does, however, expose the

inadequacy of the Welsh Government’s original budget allocation, which barely covered the rise in the living wage. “I would question how the extra

£10m will be spent, and – crucially – will it see off the threat of a reduction in commissioned services provided by local authorities? “Of course, extra money isn’t

the only answer to the Welsh Government’s social services delivery woes; innovative solutions to rising pressures on services are key to long- term sustainability and the Welsh Government must do all it can to support this.” Meanwhile, the Chairs of three key House of Commons committees

appear to strike a rather less stridently partisan tone than Suzy Davies. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the three chairs, including Dr Sarah Woollaston, a Conservative MP, state: “We believe that can best be achieved if there is cross-party consensus, and therefore urge you to invite all parties to become involved in a review, which should begin as soon as possible. Given the scale of rising demand, this immense challenge will face whichever party is in government over the coming decades." In a BBC Radio Wales interview, the Chief Executive of the Welsh

Local Government Association, Steve Thomas, said social care costs were expected to double over the next 15 years.

Mr Thomas told BBC Radio Wales'

Sunday Supplement programme that social care was 'the elephant in the room' which new councillors would have to deal with. He went on to suggest that the

projected burden of coping with the demands of an ageing population was such that: "Active consideration of either mergers of authorities or at least merger of services will be commonplace in the next period."

Suzy Davies: Original budget settlement inadequate

Time for cross party working: SarahWoollaston MP, Chair of Commons Health Committee

Social care ‘the elephant in the room’: Steve Thomas WLGA

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