BRADFORD district's under-pressure care system is to get a £20 million Government cash injection, it has been revealed.
The district’s social care boss, Councillor Val Slater, has said while she viewed it as a sticking-plaster solution, the money could be used to help “transform” the way care is delivered to older and vulnerable people locally.
A national £2bn social care fund was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in this month’s Budget. He also said the Government would examine ways to fund care over the long-term.
Now the Treasury has revealed that Bradford will get £20.3m of this cash over the next three years.
Bradford Council, which spends £158m a year on social care, had already decided to cut this spending by £16m over the next two years, through a new policy of reducing demand by supporting people more at home.
Cllr Slater said they still wanted to take this approach, regardless of the new grant.
She said: “We need to work towards enabling more people staying independent in their own homes for longer.
“It’s what they want and it’s more cost-effective for society. That won’t happen overnight.
“If we carried on as we are then we’d come to a sudden halt in 2020 when all the money runs out.”
Cllr Slater said the Government cash was a “temporary fix”, and warned that one-off grants would not solve the social care crisis when a growing number of people needed support.
But she said the money could give them the “flexibility to transform” all their services in line with their new plan.
She also added that it wasn’t yet clear whether the council would have sole control over the money or whether they would have to work with local NHS bodies to decide how it was spent.
The chief of the local care providers’ association has called on Bradford Council to make sure the cash reaches frontline home care services.
Konrad Czajka, chairman of the Bradford Care Association, which represents 19 of Bradford’s home care providers and about two-thirds of the district’s care homes, has called on the authority to pay contractors a better hourly rate for home care.
He said the association was meeting council officials later this month.
Mr Czajka said the authority paid about £14.35 an hour, which fell well short of the £16.70 rate recommended by the UK Home Care Association.
He said with minimum wage increases, a lot of care providers had decided to no longer provide home care because it was not financially viable, adding: “We are in crisis at the moment.”
Mr Czajka said paying a better hourly rate would also have a direct impact on the people who received care.
He said: “It helps providers to develop the quality workforce which is required. Recruitment and retention of staff is our biggest challenge.”
He said older people greatly valued being cared for by people they had got to know, and providers did this by retaining quality staff, “but we can’t do that if we are not paying staff enough”.
Mr Czajka said he would also like to see some of the money used “for extending the eligibility to people who otherwise might not have received any care through the council, due to the very high eligibility criteria that has been placed on older people”.
Councillor Jackie Whiteley, the council’s Conservative spokesman for social care, said she was “delighted” to hear of the extra cash.
She said: “There will no longer be any excuse for the Labour council paying care providers less than it actually costs to provide care, causing many to consider no longer operating within the district.”
She said she was writing to council bosses to request details of exactly how the money was going to be spent, “as I want to be confident that every penny is used wisely to deliver the best possible care for those who need it”.
Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, called for the money to be spent on “frontline care - real-life care in people’s houses”.
She claimed the current system was often disjointed, with no-one taking overall responsibility for a person’s needs.