A key change as part of the Spending Review announced on Wednesday 25th November was a new power to let councils increase Council Tax by up to 2% to generate extra funding for social care services only.
If Hertfordshire County Council increased Council Tax by 2% this could mean almost £10 million extra for social care. However, the Council has yet to set its Council Tax and consider this new power.
Chief Executive Michèle Stokes said: “We are pleased that the Chancellor has recognised the importance of investing in social care and has announced an additional £600 million for mental health services. We know that supporting unpaid family carers can help keep people, including older people and those with mental health problems, out of hospital. Integration is vital for carers and their families and smarter spending across health and social care is welcomed.”
However, she continued: “The extra money is unlikely to cover what is needed to meet the increasing number people requiring care. Without access to social care, families have to step in, meaning they are providing more and more care at greater cost to their own health, wellbeing and financial security.”
Coupled with the changes to Housing Benefit that will see the benefit for social housing tenants capped to the rate for private renters, carers are still going to face financial pressures.
Positive announcements as part of the Spending Review, which covers Government’s plans for spending taxpayers’ money for the duration of Parliament (the next four years) and Autumn Statement, included:
- Basic state pension is to rise by £3.35 next year to £119.30 a week;
- The Warm Home Discount Scheme is to be extended for four years – which means savings on energy bills.
- An extra £500 million in the Disabled Facilities Grant fund that covers home adaptations;
- Parts of the planned tax credit cuts announced in the Summer will no longer take place. This will protect some carers' income. So the income threshold for people to get full benefits will remain at £6,420 and not cut to £3,850 and the taper rate, which determines the amount benefit will be reduced by for earnings above this will stay the same.
Michèle said: "While it was good news that some of the tax credit cuts will not happen because Universal Credit is being rolled in, we are still concerned about the prospect of £12 billion welfare cuts over the next four years. Carers and their families are already under enormous pressure to make ends meet. And a further squeeze on their income could have a serious negative impact on their lives.”
If you are caring for a relative or friend, who wouldn’t manage without your support, Carers in Hertfordshire can help you with your caring role. To find out more visit our website www.carersinherts.org.uk or call 01992 58 69 69 - we have a team of Carer Support Advisors available to provide advice and information.