Wigan Council: We need £3m extra a year for OAP care

The adult social care bill is soaring
The adult social care bill is soaring

Wigan’s ageing population and rising demand for social care means the town hall will have to find an extra £3m each year, says its deputy leader.

The bill for adult social care soared by more than £40m last year in Greater Manchester, according to new figures.

Between them, the 10 districts spend £841.8m in 2017/18, compared with £801m the year before.

Wigan council’s spend increased by £3.7m although the town hall said it was able to deliver “a balanced budget” through service reforms.

However, without significant changes to how the sector is funded, the council faces ongoing financial challenges despite having the ability to factor a social care precept into its council tax bills, it has been claimed.

Coun Keith Cunliffe, deputy leader of the council, said: “We are in the unique position to be one of the few authorities to have balanced its adult social care budget. By working with other local health organisations, through the Healthier Wigan Partnership, we are joining-up our services to ensure we maintain high quality, safe and personalised care for our residents.

“However this does not mean that we do not have any challenges ahead of us.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his budget that the Government is handing local authorities an extra £650m to spend on social care with £240m earmarked for adult social care next year, but this comes against a backdrop of cuts to councils’ overall funding.

A Government green paper revealing more details of how the funds will be allocated is expected to be published soon.

Wigan, like many other cash-strapped town halls across the country, has imposed council tax increases ring-fenced to help fund adult social care in recent years but leaders have highlighted the proceeds are not enough to cope with the extent of the rising demand.

Coun Cunliffe said: “With an ageing population and more demand than ever before on our social care and mental health services we, along with most councils, were in a position where we can’t refuse the adult social care precept to fund these vital services as the cost of care increases.

“We need to find an additional £3m each year (in addition to the precept proceeds) to keep the budget balanced. We would welcome any additional funding to relieve these pressures.”

The adult social care bill includes the cost of providing care homes, and also home carers.

Spending in Manchester rose by £10.1m, in Stockport by £8.7m, in Bury by £6.5m, in Rochdale by £5.7m and in Bolton by £5.1m. In Trafford it increased by £2.3m and in Oldham by £2.1m. Only Salford and Tameside cut spending on social care.

The data from NHS Digital shows there were 96,950 requests for help from new clients in Greater Manchester during the financial year. That was up from 94,880 in 2016/17.

Coun Cunliffe added: “We have radically changed the way we deliver services thanks to The Deal but residents tell us they are happier than ever before with the care they’re getting. We put their aspirations and needs at the heart of every decision we make.”