In November, Nottingham Labour announced that we had provided £100,000 of additional funding for the Winter Shelter in Nottingham that helps provide support and additional beds for rough sleepers through the coldest months.
In addition to that funding, Nottingham City Council and surrounding district Councils will benefit from £370,000 over the next two years to combat rough sleeping, thanks to work from Nottingham Labour Councillors.
Nottingham City Council will continue its partnership with Framework, who will also be providing £300,000 over the next 2 years, to help extend the street outreach services that currently operate in Nottingham city, in to surrounding areas such as Gedling and Broxtowe.
The Nottinghamshire Rough Sleeper Prevention Service will be established and it is hoped that by extending outreach services into areas that surround Nottingham City, more people who are homeless will be helped without needing to come into the City.
Due to reduced funding from the Tory Government, rough sleeping has doubled nationally and in Nottinghamshire it has tripled. We know that the government’s policies of austerity have caused many people to face unmanageable financial pressures and forced many people into homelessness.
That is why Nottingham Labour will continue to try and secure funding for projects such as the Winter Shelter and the Rough Sleeper Prevention Service and provide support to anyone who is facing homelessness.
We will continue to work with Framework and social housing staff to try and prevent people who are in danger of becoming homeless ending up on the streets. Nottingham Labour will also keep to our No Second Night Out pledge, which means that accommodation and support is guaranteed to anyone who has had to spend a night sleeping rough.
Councillor Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing
In response to the question ‘how has the government contributed to creating the £9 million gap in adult social care funding for next year in Nottingham, and how will that gap be met?’ Councillor Graham Chapman provided the following response;
Let us start by defining the problem and with three very significant facts.
First, there have been weekly declarations of black alerts at Nottingham University Hospitals. A black alert is when there are no spare beds at the hospital for incoming emergency cases.
Second, nationally there has been a 40% increase in bed blocking, when people can’t leave hospital for want of care at home, which for the most part is provided by councils.
Third, it costs £2500 to keep a patient in a hospital bed on average, and £450 to care for the same patient at home.
So the logical and practical thing to do would be to increase the amount of cash available to councils. This would allow councils to relieve the pressure on hospitals and effectively to save money.
But this has not happened. Indeed the opposite has been the case. Councils, including Nottingham, have not only had to cater for an ever increasing number of elderly and disabled. They have not only had to find additional money for the minimum wage. But the very budgets we use to pay for services like adult care have been substantially reduced by the very government which is expecting us to do more. So, this year in Nottingham, there is a £9 million gap, and this is simply to keep the service going.
This is not just a Nottingham phenomenon, it is happening across England. The Government’s response has been belated this year, as it was last year, and it has been to try and bridge some of the gap by requesting an increase of 3% in the council tax.
I have two things to say about this.
First, this 3% levy will still leave a £7m gap so is inadequate. Second, resorting to council tax rises is unsustainable, especially in poorer areas. Poorer areas have a lower council tax base but a higher demand for adult care. So the council tax rises are far more punitive and far less able to cover the costs than in better off areas.
This means that councils all over the country are left with a problem: do is they increase the council tax knowing it is unfair, regressive and not fit for purpose and should be funded centrally: or are they prepared to see a service for the most vulnerable elderly and disabled deteriorate, and bed blocking in hospitals increase further still.
The whole situation reveals a real failure of planning and coordination by central Government.
It took until the last minute for government to realise the problem in 2016 and announce the 2% council tax – a levy which given the magnitude of the problem, is nothing more than a sticking plaster. Far from tackling the problem with a longer term solution, it has simply repeated the exercise with yet another 3% plaster in 2017. This tells me they have no plan. To have no plan when the NHS is in crisis and the crisis was so predictable and when it actually costs more not to provide for council adult service, is a dereliction of duty.
All I can say at this stage is that we in this council will do our utmost to keep the service going. It will be a priority; but will be at the expense of other services and, if we can come to arrangements with the Local Clinical Commissioning group which we will have to, it will be at the expense of other parts the NHS.
But in the end, there has to be a long term solution and that solution has to include more money; and more money means more tax to pay for it. I would start with corporation tax but that is my view.
What is clear is that we can’t go on as a nation with the immature approach we have; that decent key public services can be provided on the back of ever increasing number of efficiencies and we do not have to pay.
In my view we are past the point of relying on efficiencies some time ago. It’s just that government hasn’t realised it and virtually every council, every hospital and thousands of patients are now seeing the consequences.
Consultation on the 2017/18 Nottingham City Council budget started yesterday and pressure on Council services has been increased by a combination of rising adult social care costs and a lack of government funding.
Fortunately our population is living longer as a result of improved lifestyles and healthcare. Older people and people with disabilities in particular are living longer than in previous generations and this should be celebrated.
However, this has raised the cost of adult care in Nottingham by £12 million since 2011. Since 2013/14 Revenue Support Grant funding from Government has been cut from £126 million to £44 million for 2017/18, which means that in order to try and fund adult social care for those most in need in our communities, money has had to be taken from other Council services.
Nationally, social care is on the brink of collapse and pressure on the NHS is ever increasing. Chair of the National Care Association, Nadra Ahmed has said ‘we are now beyond the crisis point. We really are at the edge of the cliff’ and still the Tory Government is shifting responsibility and inadequately addressing the problem.
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government last week announced that an additional 3% precept could be added to council tax, in order to try and fix the problems faced by councils and solve the social care crisis.
This is effectively asking local taxpayers to take responsibility for a national issue caused directly by Tory policies of austerity. National taxation would spread the cost of social care across richer areas and businesses; instead the burden is shifted to council tax payers in more deprived areas.
As a Labour Council we planned to increase council tax rates by 2%, the government has proposed an additional 3%. Since 2010, government has cut direct support and for councils and adult care but are now charging council tax payers to cover the bill.
Not only is this unfair but it is also inadequate; the extra 3% council tax, if taken, would raise only £2.9 million in Nottingham but the additional amount needed to cover social care costs was £10 million this year and is set to rise.
In real terms, this year, the amount of money it costs Nottingham City Council to fund adult care has increased by 10%, the 3% the government has proposed to cover this cost will not be enough.
This incompetence will further increase pressure on the NHS and cost the taxpayer more money in the long run as to care for someone at home costs £350 per week; in a hospital it costs £2500 per week.
The government should stop shifting responsibility onto local taxpayers and find other ways to fund social care before more vulnerable people across the country lose out.
Councillor Alex Norris, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Health