Rising cost of social care could take Wakefield Council’s entire budget

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The cost of providing social care could take up Wakefield Council’s entire budget in five years’ time.

Local authorities must make cuts to adult and children’s social care to avoid a budget scenario described as “the graph of doom”.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Town hall bosses are already expected to add two per cent to council tax bills to help fund the service.

But the measure will only raise £2.1m, just 1.5 per cent of the social care budget, when demand has been rising by five per cent a year.

The council’s Modern Public Services overview and scrutiny committee heard that the adult and children’s care budgets currently took up 70 per cent of total spending, around £140m a year.

Minutes from last month’s meeting said: “Members referred to the “graph of doom” and it was confirmed that by 2020-21 the whole of the council’s budget would be spent on social care unless hard decisions were made in preceding years.

WED DEMENTIA - DEMENTIA CAN BE ISOLATING (PIC POSED BY MDOEL) 'old man / elderly / oap / lonely / depressed

WED DEMENTIA - DEMENTIA CAN BE ISOLATING (PIC POSED BY MDOEL) 'old man / elderly / oap / lonely / depressed

“This would mean cuts in adults’ and children’s services because it accounted for such a large proportion of the budget.”

The meeting was told that a government decision to protect NHS treatment services at the expense of social care and public health meant budgets were under pressure.

The report said: “The public health budget would fall by an average of 3.9 per cent on top of the £1.5m mid-year reduction this year.”

Some extra funding was made available from the government to help councils take over responsibility for public health services.

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The report added: “An extra £1.5bn nationally will be available for local authority social care provision from the Better Care Fund by 2019-20, but this may not be new money. “

The “graph of doom” is being used by councils to describe their projected spending on social care between now and 2020.

They have been predicting that the rising cost of social care will overwhelm all council services by that time.

Huge cuts to local authority spending power have already been made by the government.

And over the next four years, Chancellor George Osborne wants to phase out central funding for councils altogether as he seeks to run a government budget surplus.

Authorities will have greater powers to raise money locally through taxation.

Rules have also been changed so asset sales can be used to fund council services.

But warnings are still being made that cuts will have to be made to social care budgets.