Latest Public Sector News

09.01.17

Welsh LGA: Social care costs may force councils to merge after all

The rising cost of social care could eventually force Welsh councils to merge despite these plans being dropped just last October, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has said.

The WLGA's chief executive Steve Thomas warned that the costs Welsh councils will face for social care will double over the next 15 years from £1.3bn to £2.6bn, with “no suggestion” of how councils will fund the rise.

Thomas suggested that the answer to the crisis may have to come in the form of funding given by Westminster rather than in the Welsh government budget, describing social care as “the elephant in the room” for future councillors.

“There are huge pressures, not least of all on health and social care. Social care costs will double in the next 15 years,” Thomas told BBC Radio Wales. “Active consideration of either mergers of authorities or at least merger of services will be commonplace in the next period.”

Last October the Welsh government scrapped plans to merge the country’s 22 councils into eight or nine bodies in order to find £650m of savings, instead making regional collaboration between councils mandatory. However, it appears that the idea may have to be revived in the future.

Speaking to PSE, Thomas said that the situation is becoming “serious” with funding currently back to 2003 levels and citing projections that future financial settlements will only “flatline or shrink” under austerity measures.

Thomas said that the WLGA was focusing on social care “as it’s the one area where we think we can help the wider public services in Wales”, but stressed that further support from national government may be needed.

“The situation is becoming serious,” added Thomas. “We’ve got problems with residential care homes. We’ve got problems with huge demographic challenges.”

With elections due to be held in all of Wales’ local authorities this May, Thomas said that social care is “certainly … the biggest issue” that new councillors will have to address. He suggested that the government may consider boosting social care funding by introducing a tobacco surcharge, which would see service users’ payments rise if they are smokers.

(Image c. Ben Birchall PA Wire)

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here 

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Driving forward a healthier Scotland

10/11/2017Driving forward a healthier Scotland

Dundee City Council is leading the way in boosting electric vehicle (EV) up... more >
A smarter approach to digital transformation

10/11/2017A smarter approach to digital transformation

Catherine Bright, Smarter Digital Services (SDS) manager, explains how a pa... more >

interviews

‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

30/06/2017‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

Keith Smith, public sector business development manager at Virgin Media Bus... more >

the raven's daily blog

City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

22/11/2017City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

It’s been a busy day in the PSE office. Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget included a number of interesting announcements, ranging from new devolution deals and housin... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >