Who Will You Vote For In May? Join Our Election Poll At The End Of This Story
A rapidly aging population and an increase in the number of people needing care presents the greatest challenge to county councils over the next four years as local authority budgets continue to plummet.
But this week the five main parties vying to take over County Hall in the Thursday, May 4, elections have been given the chance to say how they would protect our most vulnerable if they were to gain control of the chamber next month. And some might say the winners face an unenviable task.
Northamptonshire’s population is set to expand by more than 120,000 by 2037, with the highest growth rate being among those aged 70 and over.
Coupled with that, there has been a 70 per cent increase in the number of adults with serious care needs the council must respond to since 2012.
The funding pressures have been well documented in recent months.
In January Surrey County Council announced plans to hold a referendum on raising its council tax by a whopping 15 per cent to cope, because it said the Government had cut its funding by £170m since 2010.
In Northamptonshire the adult social services department, which looks after older people and those with severe disabilities, has born the brunt of this year’s cuts, £25m in total.
Alongside all of this councils are in the grip of a care staffing crisis, with some studies suggesting 900 carers are quitting the profession every day in the UK.
So, political parties, it’s over to you...
"We have developed two community interest companies to provide Adult Social Care and Wellbeing services.
"The creation of Northamptonshire Adult Social Services (NASS) is a fundamental and positive development for the service, enabling a more seamless pathway for people who are eligible for social care.
"We are committed in our accommodation strategy to develop extra care and retirement villages – this will include working closely with our district and borough partners.
"Further development of crisis response and re-ablement services will see more joined-up services with health partners and we will use Government funding to develop the market to ensure more sustainable services in the future.
"First for Wellbeing is for the delivery of services that enhance the physical, emotional, social and economic wellbeing of all our citizens.
"We are helping people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing by assessing their needs, determining the priority of those needs and signposting them to a range of support and intervention.
"In addition, we are uniquely placed to offer companies and organisations a bespoke wellbeing solution in their workplace. We will look to further develop our partnership with health and supported by the Health and Wellbeing Board have agreed a Sustainable Transformation Plan (STP) which will play a key role in moving towards an integrated health and social care service."
"Over the last seven years adult social care in Northamptonshire has taken some of the biggest cuts in the NCC budget.
"Last year £23 million, this year an extra £31 million.
"Putting up the council tax will only bring in a extra £5 million each year and we have no idea of how the Government intends to fund the authority from its recent budget statement.
"With an expected 25 per cent rise in demand predicted for services in Northamptonshire, it doesn’t take much to work out we have a major problem.
"It is our duty to protect vulnerable adult’s in Northamptonshire, which quite frankly the Tory authority have failed to do.
"So what would Labour do differently?
"Firstly we would direct more money to adult social care, making sure Northamptonshire’s seven MPs stand up to the Government to correct the under-funding.
"We would also work to build more NCC run care hones and work closer with people to encourage our residents to stay at home longer making it easier and quicker to make home alterations when needed. We would also work closer with boroughs and districts to work on a local basis. Our residents work hard all their life and they deserve the best in their twilight years. The size of your bank shouldn’t matter."
"The Conservative-run county council has failed to plan for a sustainable service and to provide for the increased demand for care over the past 12 years. In fact they have taken millions of pounds out of health care to fill budget black holes elsewhere in the council finances.
"We all know people are living longer – the number of people aged 70 plus in Northamptonshire is expected to rise by 35,000 between 2014 and 2024 (more than 43 per cent).
"The Conservatives have failed to plan for this, failing the people of Northamptonshire.
"Care home providers have warned for years they are not paid enough to house local authority clients, but despite these warnings Northamptonshire has closed local authority-run homes.
"Everybody understands that at a time of lack of funding for both local government and the NHS it is even more important that we work together.
"It is even more important that we work together to tackle poor health and health inequalities.
"Liberal Democrats councillors in local government will establish a culture of co-operation and collaboration in which the public health, voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) are working together to make a real difference to people’s health and wellbeing in Northamptonshire.
"In the current financial climate and lack of planning by Conservatives, we Liberal Democrats are concerned that some VCSE organisations, particularly small ones may become unsustainable.
"Liberal Democrats Councillors will make sure that the needs of grass-roots sector community organisations are met with extra support to make sure they can continue to play their part in supporting vulnerable people in our community."
"The Conservatives have no clear plans in place for adult social care provision, they just say that discussions are going on and plans will be revealed soon. This isn’t good enough – we need a clearly set out plan for the future, not vague promises on delivery.
"It is vital that we support the elderly who have suffered at the hands of the county council.
"General financial incompetence has forced the council to reduce services provided to those who need them most. Withdrawal of support for day care centres, which provide a vital lifeline is completely unacceptable and penalises the most vulnerable in our society.
"If UKIP were to win the general election, a sovereign wealth fund would be in place to cover care for the elderly. Unfortunately, the current Government has no such initiative or vision and has left it to local councils to deliver an inadequate service on reduced funding.
"A proper 'zero-base budget' review is the solution – every single item of spending needs to be properly scrutinised. There are no easy answers and no quick fix – it will be a long, hard grind.
"The Conservative administration has admitted there is a £24million structural deficit in adult social care which has grown up on their watch.
"They have not had basic financial control and discipline. They are not the safe pair of hands that they pretend to be."
"The challenges facing social care are unprecedented.
"The Government’s 40 per cent local government cuts have seen the number of care clients drop by more than 50 per cent, falling from 1.8 million in 2010 to 800,000 now, significantly increasing hospital admissions and decreasing the rate at which people are discharged.
"At the heart of our green vision is a community-led care and support service where we invest in communities; training, supporting and resourcing them to help each other and the most vulnerable in our society, alongside professionals and the council.
"The Northamptonshire Green Party would invest in preventative support services like community networks and supported housing, reducing the need for costly care and providing more practical help for carers.
"We would address ‘bed blocking’ by making changes so people can go home more quickly.
"We would stop placing vulnerable disabled people in remote, costly and poor care services, and prioritise home care over residential care to help more people stay in their homes for longer. And we would bring care provision back under the control of the council and support communities to take on services where there is a desire, thereby preventing profit making companies making money at the expense of communities."