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Hunt told to end care 'postcode lottery'

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Councils in some of England’s most deprived areas have warned health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt that he must end an increasing disparity in funding for care services.

The Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (Sigoma) said the government should use its “long overdue” green paper to set out a solution to avoid a “postcode lottery”.

Sir Steve Houghton and Jo Miller

Hunt told to end care ‘postcode lottery’

Sir Steve Houghton and Jo Miller

Sigoma chair Sir Stephen Houghton (Lab) said affluent areas with relatively low social care demands and strong tax bases are able to raise significantly more than poorer, high-demand areas with mainly band A and B properties.

He said: “It is fast turning a historic economic divide into a serious social one whereby if you happen to live in a poorer area you’re more likely to receive lower quality care in old age or if you suffer from a long-term disability.

“People should be entitled to the same quality of service no matter where they live, and the government must act now to end this postcode lottery.”

Sir Stephen added: “Despite already having among the highest levels of deprivation in the country, the municipal areas we represent have borne the brunt of austerity, facing government cuts of 27% this decade, compared to the English average of 21%.”

Sigoma represents 46 urban metropolitan and unitary councils, which it said raised 29% less per head in council tax than counties and 42% less in business rates than London boroughs.

While central government has allowed local authorities to increase council tax to pay for social care, this had had the effect of “forcing an ever greater burden onto struggling families”, said Sir Stephen, who is also leader of Barnsley MBC.

His call was supported by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers, whose chair Jo Miller, said: “Despite prioritising social care budgets to protect their most vulnerable residents, and having little choice but to increase local taxes, places like Doncaster, Manchester, Nottingham, Southampton and Barnsley are facing among the highest levels of demand but are some of the least able to increase spending.”

Ms Miller is also Doncaster MBC chief executive.

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