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Social care the 'biggest financial challenge' facing Merton Council

Posted on 20/07/2018 by


Social care is the biggest financial challenge facing Merton Council, a meeting has heard.

Council chief executive Ged Curran addressed the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on Tuesday night (July 17), outlining the priorities and challenges for 2018/19.

Mr Curran said local government across the country is struggling financially.

“The reality is that local authorities are in a very parlous financial position and as far as we can see it’s only going to get worse,” he said.

“What is driving all of this is the cost of social care provision.

“The cost of providing this for frail elderly people and vulnerable children is growing exponentially in line with changing demographics and we’re not seeing the increasing costs of looking after these people being reflected in funding that the council receives.”

He said that the council would have to find additional funding but did not envisage changes happening in the next four years.

“The difficulty is it is a significant sum of money that needs to be found – it is either going to come from an increase in taxation or finding a way to take money out of the equity that sits in people’s houses,” said Mr Curran. 

“Neither of those is going to prove popular it would be very difficult to put in place.

“Because politics is so fractured at the moment and is unlikely to get fixed any time soon I’d be very surprised if any changes happened during the lifetime of this administration.

“For planning purposes we should assume that the pressures on social care will be a constant financial burden on the council in the future.”

The council boss said this pressure means it will manifesto pledges made in May’s election could be harder to deliver.

Mr Curran said: “What this means is all the ambitions that people had for the borough, had in their manifesto and campaigned for across the parties are going to be very, very difficult to deliver.

“And any changes that we wish to make in what we do as a council if we are absolutely serious about them we have to start by saying where is the money for that going to come from.

“It is probably a conversation about what we’re going to stop doing as well as what we are going to start doing.”

Source: WimbledonGuardian