Budget gap in the cost of care

Council leader Judith Blake
Council leader Judith Blake
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NEW powers to raise money to pay for social care will not be enough to cover the rising costs of looking after the elderly, the leader of Leeds City Council has warned.

Coun Judith Blake described the move as a “step in the right direction” but not enough to relieve all of the financial pressures on her authority from the rising demand from adult social care.

Councils have been told they can add an additional two per cent to council tax bills if the money raised is ring-fenced to be spent on adult social care.

The power was confirmed in the Government’s financial settlement for councils announced last week.

Leeds has confirmed it will have to revisit its budget plans after its Government grant was cut by £34m rather than the expected £24m.

The authority’s draft budget

already contained a raft of savings including a reduction of 259 staff.

Coun Blake said: “Clearly one of the issues that we will be looking at in a great deal of detail is the whole area of social care.

“Whilst this will give us some more money, around £5m in the Leeds context, we are working against pressures of around £20m just to stand still.

“So whilst it is a step in the right direction actually in terms of what we need to find to address the increasing pressures, more vulnerable elderly people who need our care, it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.”

Coun Blake was responding to questions from Leeds councillors over the city’s finances for next year.

The Government has announced its intention to remove council grants by 2020 with local authorities expected to fund themselves through new powers to hold onto all business rates income along with council tax and charges for services.