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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2016-11-24

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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The Chancellor should use £356m in unallocated Business Rates to ease the social care funding crisis

THE UK Government could ease the social care crisis by handing back to Councils in the North West millions in surplus cash raised from Business Rates, according to new figures published by UNISON.

If local authorities in the North West were given back their share of Business Rates that have been collected by the UK Government, this would mean an extra £356m to spend on social care, says UNISON.

UNISON's calculations are based on the same funding formula for the UK Government's 'Better Care Fund,' which allocates resources to the NHS and local authorities.

If the UK Government were able hand back a proportion of Business Rates for North West local authorities to spend on social care, local Council Taxpayers would benefit too, says UNISON.

The extra Business Rates cash would remove the need for local authorities to raise Council Tax by 2% to spend on social care, saving North West residents £50m a year, says UNISON.

UNISON says many more people would be able to receive care in the region under its proposal. Lancashire County Council would get nearly £48m more to spend and Taxpayers would save £8m (because money from Business Rates would avoid the need for Council Taxes to rise). Similarly Cumbria County Council would get £21m, saving its Taxpayers £4m a year.

With Business Rates to spend on social care, Stockport Council would have another £10.5m to spend, saving its Council Taxpayers £2.6m. Warrington Council would gain £7.3m, saving £1.6m for local Taxpayers.

UNISON North West Regional secretary Kevan Nelson said:- "The social care system is in dire straits. There's simply not enough money to fund the care that's needed. The losers are the thousands of dedicated homecare workers, who work long hours, and whose already low wages are dragged below the legal minimum because of the non payment of travel time. Those suffering the most are the elderly and the disabled, who rely on daily visits so they can stay in their own homes. Visits are often too short to administer the care needed, or care packages simply aren't available. Then people have to stay in hospital far longer than is good for them, in beds that are desperately needed for other patients.  Investing £356m in social care would be money extremely well spent. Not only would it mean better care for the elderly, it would ease the pressure on homecare staff, and free up beds in the NHS."

Last week UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis wrote to Philip Hammond setting out where the autumn statement could make a real difference to public services. The Chancellor could:-

► End public service job cuts, where fewer staff are trying to do more with less resources.

► Fully fund student nurse bursaries, giving the NHS a better chance of recruiting the additional health professionals it needs.

► End the 1% public sector pay cap, which has caused money worries for many public servants.

 

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