Shropshire Star

Don’t blame ‘wicked capitalists’ for care crisis say Tory councillors

Shropshire Council’s Conservative administration says “wicked capitalists” are not to blame for the county’s care funding crunch.

Last updated

The authority faces exceptional levels of demand for social care services amid rising levels of inflation, which have led to an extra £20 million being pumped into social care budgets for this year.

But opposition groups say the council relies too heavily on external contractors to provide social care in the county, leaving the authority at the mercy of private care firms.

Last month the Labour group presented alternative budget plans to in-source some care staff, and group leader Julia Buckley reiterated calls to rethink social care delivery when she addressed the council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

“Is it because the council has outsourced so much of it’s service delivery, that where you have demand-led pressure we are at the whim of the private sector who can put up their prices, so it’s actually the unit cost of that care that is producing this massive increase?” she said.

“Our staff have done the hard work and our staff are now at risk of redundancy because the costs of the private sector are crippling this council week-on-week.”

But Conservative councillor and portfolio holder for adult social care, Cecilia Motley, said that narrative was “not helpful” and “not accurate”, blaming a rise in population levels and a greater proportion of over 65s now relying on the council’s social care services.

“Instead of all this political flim-flam that seems to be going on, we actually had a look at why we’re seeing increasing demand in social care,” she said.

“There’s been 115 per cent increase in [hospital] discharge activity over the last three years and continued pressure, and I have to say that our teams have worked tirelessly on the issue of discharge from hospital and also at placing our residents in appropriate accommodation.

“We also have a situation where people are presenting with increasingly complex problems and dementia plays a large part here.

“We’ve got more looked after children transitioning into adulthood and once that happens costs inevitably go up.

“Most of our care homes are small, they’re very often family run, they’re catering very much for their local communities so could we please get over this point about the ‘wicked capitalists who are basically charging us all until we’re skint’ because it’s not very helpful and it’s not actually accurate.”

Green Party councillor Julian Dean called for greater transparency on the council’s cost pressures in social care, which a budget consultation launched in December by Shropshire Council attributed to a “rising tide of demand” across the county.

“We understand there are significant pressures but we’re not being told what those are,” he said.

“Something is going on out there which is producing a significant acceleration in the pressures, and the most likely explanation is the cost pressures which are as a result of being dependent on a market out there, large parts of which are outside Shropshire.

“We have to unpick exactly where those pressures are coming from so that the solutions we put into the budget going forward, particularly into the capital budget going forward, are the right solutions in order to reduce those pressures.”