Surrey raises the stakes
By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON
Hats off to Surrey Council for announcing a planned 15% uplift in council tax to maintain social care at humane levels.
Despite having pruned its annual budget by £450m the council says it needs the double-digit hike in council tax to meet its statutory obligations to frail elderly people, those with learning disabilities and children with special needs, the demand for which is increasing every year.
Because the increase exceeds, by a considerable margin, the cap on council tax set by central government, the council is required to put the proposal before its citizens by means of a referendum. What will the good citizens of Surrey say? It’s my bet they’ll say no, giving the tacit but clear message that they see social care as being primarily the responsibility of national government, with local government simply being the vehicle for delivery.
It’s handy that Surrey has a Conservative-controlled council, thereby heading-off any accusations that it is playing politics with the issue. In the unlikely event that people in Surrey agree to the proposed council tax increase, we could expect other local authorities to follow suit, with variable success, and so perpetuate the (brace yourselves for the overused trope) ‘postcode lottery’.
Hopefully, an unambiguous ‘no’ vote in a Surrey referendum will force the Government’s hand. Supporting and caring for frail elderly and other vulnerable people should be a cornerstone of governments across the globe and relatively wealthy western governments have no excuse for neglecting their responsibilities in this area.
Indeed, if we were to use social care as a moral yardstick, the UK is not too far away from being deserving of the title of “failed state”.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.