CRISIS-hit Somerset Council leader Cllr Bill Revans has called for urgent Government action to ‘fix the social care funding crisis’.
Cllr Revans said the current funding formula for local government did not reflect the actual needs and costs of providing essential public services.
It comes a week after the Liberal Democrat-run council admitted it might be bankrupt by February, with Cllr Revans’ executive colleagues officially declaring the authority was suffering a ‘financial emergency’.
Budget papers showed the council faced a funding gap of £100 million for the next financial year, which it said was mainly due to a predicted £70 million increase in the cost of adult social care.
Without immediate action, Somerset could become the next authority after Birmingham and Woking to issue a Section 114 notice, effectively declaring the council bankrupt.
Now, Cllr Revans has written to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.
Cllr Revans denied his authority’s overspend position was because of poor control or oversight, or policy decisions, or legal action.
He told Mr Gove: “It is simply an exceptionally large increase in our costs for demand-led services, set against our constrained ability to raise additional income.
“The model for funding social care is broken and we urgently need your support to ensure we can continue to care for those most in need.”
He said the authority was managing its finances prudently and responsibly and delivering a unitary council to streamline public services, working in partnership with the NHS, voluntary sector, and town and parish councils, and selling assets and reviewing all areas of spending.
However, Cllr Revans said the measures would still not be enough to close the gap between income and spending on demand-led services.
He asked Mr Gove to ensure adult social care funding was addressed by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt as part of next week’s Autumn Statement and local government finance settlement.
Cllr Revans has also written to all Somerset’s MPs to highlight the emergency he and his Lib Dem councillors face and ask for their support by lobbying Government.
Separately, the council’s Lib Dem adult social care executive Cllr Dean Ruddle has also written to health and social care Minister Helen Whately to explain how costs in Somerset were soaring.