Increased precept to help pay for adult social care
Extra funds sought to manage the impact of an increasing demand for adult social care.
West Berkshire Councillors will be asked to approve a 3% council tax supplement for 2017/18 to help manage the impact of an increasing demand for adult social care.
Known as the adult social care precept, the supplement will generate £2.5m for the council to help deliver a vital service which supports those who most need help across the district. Like many local authorities, West Berkshire Council is seeing an unprecedented increase in demand both in terms of the number of people who need help and the level of support required.
Adult social care covers support for physical and mental health needs as well as learning disabilities and other conditions. West Berkshire Council already spends around £38m, or a third of its budget, on social care. However, with the number of residents aged over 65 growing by 3% annually this also means that the number of people qualifying for support from the council increases.
In 2016 around 2,000 adults received long-term social care support and more than 4,000 new requests for support were received. Care is delivered to people at home, at day centres or in residential or nursing homes and by many volunteer and charity organisations commissioned by and working with West Berkshire Council.
Speaking about social care Councillor Rick Jones, West Berkshire Council's Executive Member for Adult Social Care said: "Social care might be needed at any time in your life and we all want to be sure that help will be there if we need it. This is an important area and we need to fund it properly if we are to continue providing help to those who need it most. We're committed to protecting spending on social care during the financial challenges we face and the precept will help us maintain the service we provide."
In West Berkshire the number of people aged over 65 now accounts for 24% of the population. In addition, the needs of all the people supported by the council are also gradually increasing in complexity so that more and more individuals now need multiple support services. This inevitably means that the costs to West Berkshire Council are increasing too, and this is set to continue. On average, the cost of supporting an elderly person is £17,000 each year and this can rise to £44,000 annually for those with learning disabilities.
As well as protecting services West Berkshire Council is looking for innovative new ways to deliver care as intelligently as possible. This includes keeping people at home and in their community as long as possible with good support, commissioning good quality services at best-value for money and sharing best practice with other authorities.
Councillor Rick Jones added: "Safeguarding is a priority for the council and we have worked hard to protect social care as a whole and specifically all those who rely on our service. We will continue to invest in this area and our budget for 2017/18 will reflect that."
As well as applying an adult social care precept to the council tax bill, council tax itself will also increase by 1.99% as part of a budget which requires the council to save £8.9m next year. West Berkshire Council's budget for 2017/18 will be considered at a meeting of full Council on Thursday 2 March, 2017.