Lancashire to get largest slice of new social care cash

The new social care money earmarked for County Hall, as well the town halls in Blackpool and Blackburn, means Lancashire as a whole will get a greater share than any other shire county
The new social care money earmarked for County Hall, as well the town halls in Blackpool and Blackburn, means Lancashire as a whole will get a greater share than any other shire county

Lancashire will receive a larger share than any other non-metropolitan county of the extra social care funding that the government has pledged for next year.

The county council area will be handed £33.4m, while the standalone authorities in Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen will get £5.9m and £4.9m respectively.

The extra money for 2020/21 is from a £1.4bn pot for adult and children’s services, £400m of which was introduced as a temporary boost last year and will be repeated again over the next twelve months.

County Hall could raise a further £48m if takes up the option of a hiking council tax by two percent and ringfencing it specifically for social care, as the government has permitted for the last three years. The same move would generate £5.5m for Blackpool and £5.1m for Blackburn with Darwen.

But a House of Lords committee concluded in June that social care in England needed an immediate £8bn cash injection to return the system to pre-austerity levels of operation – describing it as a “national scandal” that a million vulnerable people were not receiving the support they need.

A government “green paper” review into the future of social care was originally promised back in 2017, but has not appeared after being repeatedly delayed. As well as the extra £1bn which has now been released, the Conservative manifesto ahead of the recent general election committed to seeking a cross-party consensus on the issue.

The social care figures emerged as part of the local government finance settlement, which was published last week – after being put back because of the pre-Christmas poll.

The overall funding package will see Lancashire County Council’s spending power – the cash available to it from government grants, council tax and business rates – increase by 7.3 percent compared to last year and 15.1 percent since 2015/16, taking it to £843m.

But the authority has seen £600m cut from its budget since 2010 – and would still be around £135m better off this year even if its budget had just kept pace with inflation over the last decade. The authority was approached for comment on its finance settlement for next year.

Twelve out of the 14 unitary and district councils in Lancashire will get increases in their spending power compared to last year – with only Chorley and South Ribble seeing slight falls of 0.4 percent each.

But nine of those authorities have had reductions in the total cash available to them since 2015 – Burnley, Chorley, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, South Ribble, Rossendale, West Lancashire and Wyre.

Chorley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale councils' spendign power has fallen by over 10 percent in that period.

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said that next year's settlement for local authorities would equate to their "biggest real-terms increase in spending power for a decade".

"This government is committed to unleashing the huge potential of this country and we are giving communities the funding that they need to thrive, support the most vulnerable in our society and also protect the vital services that we all rely on," Mr. Jenrick added.