Tory cuts to councils could leave a £1.7billion black hole in adult social care funding in London by 2020, affecting tens of thousands of vulnerable people in the Capital, according to new research published yesterday.
The Red Lines campaign, run by a group of Labour Councillors concerned about the impact of austerity, warns that cuts to adult social care funding will “threaten vulnerable people and undermine the NHS”.
On their website, the group says: “We are coming together from across the capital to speak out against the government’s short-sighted austerity and to protect the vital public services on which Londoners rely”.
Around 170,000 people in London currently receive care from their council, with demand on services expected to grow further in coming years.
The government recently announced that it would allow local authorities to increase Council Tax by 2% to help fund social care. However, Red Lines claims that even if every council were to levy the additional amount it would still raise only £570million by 2020.
They add that even if every London borough increased Council Tax by 2%, and even if the full £410million was made available through the Better Care Fund, councils would still face a funding gap of £750million by 2020.
Sadiq Khan, Labour candidate for Mayor of London, said: “A city can be judged by the way it cares for its vulnerable residents. As Londoners, we all want our city to pass that test.
“But the Tory government, with its relentless cuts to councils’ funding, is making that impossible”.
Heidi Alexander MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health, said: “This research is further proof that the Tories’ plan for funding older people’s care in London, and across the country, is woefully inadequate.
“The growing crisis in social care is one of the key reasons why the NHS in London is under so much pressure.
“Since David Cameron came to power, thousands of older people living in the capital are no longer getting the crucial help they need.
“This is leading to many more people in their 80s and 90s ending up in hospital unnecessarily and having to stay there because of a lack of care in the community.
“Ministers cannot allow this neglect of social care services to go on any longer.”
Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council and Labour’s London Councils Shadow Lead Member on Adult Social Care, said: “Labour councillors are standing up for Londoners against Tory government cuts to social care.
“The government’s decision to keep slashing councils’ budgets hits the vulnerable the hardest and spells serious trouble for the NHS. The NHS cannot survive if the social care system is decimated.”
Dr Brian Fisher, a GP based in Lewisham, said: “As a GP, my colleagues and I increasingly see the impact of government cuts on the lives of our patients and on the NHS.
“The woman dependent on carers to see her through the week having their hours cut by half. The impossibility of arranging meals on wheels for those who need them. And, of course, the impact on the NHS of not being able to move patients from hospital into safe social care. None of this is necessary.”