Charity embarks on campaign to increase social care funding amid "sweetheart deal" claims

February 9, 2017

hft-five-final-logo-01.jpgA national charity that works to support adults with learning disabilities has spoken out in concern over claims that Surrey County Council is involved in a "sweetheart deal" with the government. 

Hft is embarking on a campaign to get local authorities to support calls to increase central government funding for the learning disability sector by five per cent. 

The calls are being made following recent allegations that Surrey County Council has clinched a "sweetheart deal" with the Department for Communities and Local Government after it announced it would drop plans to increase council tax by 15% to meet the shortfall in social care funding. 

The government has since rejected the claims saying that it is not proposing any extra funding for the authority.

Raising tax by 15% would have required a referendum and Hft says it is "unacceptable" to put such a decision in the hands of the general public and the situation is an ongoing worry for the charity. 

Billy Davis, public affairs and policy manager, said: "The ongoing situation in Surrey continues to be a concern for Hft.

"We did not support the idea of a referendum. It was unacceptable of Surrey County Council to put the future funding of care for some of the most vulnerable people in society to a vote, and we are glad to see this idea has rightly been dropped.

"Since then, we have seen the so-called ‘Nickileaks’ text message scandal and DCLG's announcement that Surrey will be a pilot a scheme for the devolution of business rates retention by local authorities. We will monitor the implementation of this scheme with great interest."

Hft supports more than 100 adults with learning disabilities in the county by providing access to a range of social activities involving cookery, art, music and woodwork. It also provides a number of supported living services as well as running a small residential home in New Malden.

As the situation in Surrey continues to unfold, Hft chiefs are launching a campaign to try and alter the way social care funding is handled. 

The charity has long believed that raising funds at local level is an ineffective way to plug the funding gap. 

Billy explained: "Areas that have the greatest need often have smaller tax bases, so monies raised at the local level - be it the social care precept or retention of business rates - often only exacerbate this inequality."

In a bid to find a viable solution, Hft commissioned a study from independent economics consultancy Cebr to assess the financial pressures facing the learning disability sector. The report found that to ensure the needs of the sector are met, central government must increase funding by a minimum of five per cent. 

As such, Hft is now calling on the government to honour the result of the study and have launched the #GiveMe5 campaign. Charity representatives will be visiting councils up and down the country ahead of local elections in May to raise awareness of the issues facing the disability sector and to ask them to support their campaign. 

It is also asking members of the public to support them by using the #GiveMe5 hashtag on social media and downloading the report at www.hft.org.uk/shortfall
 

Add new comment