Business Rates Not Council Tax Should Resolve Social Care Crisis

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Reports have emerged from Whitehall this week that the Prime Minister will back plans to increase Council tax bills in order to try and solve the social care crisis that faces the UK.

There is currently a social care precept on Council tax of 2% and the government are expected to announce that Councils can increase this by a further 2%, or possibly more.

This would mean that Councils across the country may be forced to raise Council Tax by 4% in order to try and care for the most vulnerable people in their communities.

This follows the chancellor’s decision to ignore the social care funding crisis during his autumn statement, a decision that prompted wide spread criticism from Council’s across the country, and lobbying from Tory ministers and MP’s.

However, by making Council’s charge their residents to cover the cost, the government is shifting responsibility and increasing the pressure on council taxpayers.

The system also favours richer areas of the Country, where more income can be generated from higher band properties. In an area like Nottingham, where there are mostly band A and B properties, not enough income is generated to help people in need. Additionally, in less well-off areas, less people can afford private care and so the demand for social care services is higher.

Government should take responsibility for this crisis, rather than shifting the cost to local taxpayers, and use the £2.4billion of central funding it is set to receive each year over the next three years in unallocated business rates. This ‘windfall’ has come about because the Government now receives more in business rates from councils than it gives back in revenue grant funding.

There is a crisis in funding for social care, and if swift action isn’t taken by Government then the situation could decline even further. Medical and social care professionals have warned that if the situation continues we could face care home closures, increased waiting times and cancelled contracts.

The Government should scrap plans to increase council tax, as in more deprived areas not only will people lose out, but demand won’t be met. In Nottingham, the total additional cost of adult social care to the council set to reach £54million by 2019/20; increasing council tax on band A and B properties will not raise that amount.

However, using the business rates surplus would allow billions of pounds of investment to be put into social care and help provide support where it’s needed most for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Graham Chapman, Deputy Leader of Nottingham City Council

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