Fears of further cuts to social care funding despite tax rises

Social care funding could be cut over the next few years, despite the government putting more money into the system.

The 1.25 per cent national insurance increase, which comes into effect next month, will be used to raise a £36bn social care levy.

But fears have been raised by Hampshire councillors that this could be negated by cuts having to be made by the county council.

The agreed budget for April 2023, which will see £80m slashed from the budget, currently has no cuts to the social care sector.

However, the county council is  running a consultation on proposals to cut social care community grants, making savings of £320,000.

Opposing Liberal Democrat spokesman for health and social care, Councillor David Harrison, said: ‘I am absolutely certain that we will see more social care cutbacks in the future. There’s simply not enough money available for services we provide.

‘Your guess is as good as mine as to the impact of these cuts, or how deep they will go.

‘We are talking about groups that did a marvellous job during the pandemic, running services that we used to provide – and now we could be slashing their funding. It’s hardly fair, but I worry that the worst could be yet to come.’

Hampshire County Council’s debt is set to increase to £358m by 2025/26.

As previously reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, care provider MHA has voiced concerns about potential social care cuts – and is not alone in this.

Helen Callen, CEO of Age Concern Hampshire, fears these cuts may put their service out of action completely.

She said: ‘Our volunteers are a valuable lifeline to older people across Hampshire.

‘Since April 2021, with a very small amount of funding from the grant, we have secured £382,000 in annual benefits for older people – a very high return on investment.

‘We are working hard to look at other funding options for the service, however, in the event HCC stops the grant, this may mean we have to make the difficult decision to close the service by March 2023.’

Executive lead member for adult services and public health, Councillor Liz Fairhurst, was approached for comment.