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Adult social care funding ‘biggest risk’ to council budget

ADULT social care funding is the “biggest risk to the council’s budget” and requires a national solution, councillors heard.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s social services directorate has seen a 53 per cent increase in budget pressure and demand over the last ten years the cabinet member for finance Cllr Bob Kilmister said.

He added that there was no sign of that slowing down “because we don’t have a system in place that adequately funds it and takes care of it. We as a nation have got to decide how important this is and someone has got to tackle it but it keeps getting put off and put off.”

Cllr Kilmister was agreeing with concerns raised at corporate overview and scrutiny committee by Cllr Michael John, who questioned “how bad does it have to get before there’s a new policy on funding from either Welsh Government or central government.”

Cllr John said that Pembrokeshire staff were “working their socks off” but cost reductions of more than £5million not being met put further pressure on the social care budgets, on top of a £3.5million overspend due to increased demand.

“The demands are getting more and more every year, I wonder how long it can keep going before it collapses without funding,” added Cllr John.

The committee heard that the council had allocated more funding and there had been Welsh Government support for increased Covid-19 demands but “their budget was still under pressure.”

Other concerns raised about council finances included the increase in housing rent arrears which was currently around £654,000 compared to £145,000 at the same time last year, largely caused by the Covid-19 crisis and Universal Credit introduction, said Cllr Kilmister.

Help for tenants struggling was provided and there were extra staff to work with them, he told Cllr Pat Davies, who raised concerns about those unable to pay their rent.

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