Politicians from all parties have called on the Government to do more to provide a long-term plan for adult social care in Nottinghamshire.
The issue was debated during a meeting of the county council on Thursday (October 10) and while there was broad agreement about its importance, councillors disagreed on what action should be taken.
The authority has now agreed to send a letter from the leader of the council – Kay Cutts – to the secretary of state for health and social care asking for dates when a plan will be produced.
Social care funding has provided a difficult challenge for local councils, with several factors contributing, including an older population living longer and with more complex needs, a rising cost of care due in part to the rising minimum wage, and significant cuts to councils’ budgets.
A long-expected plan for how social care will be structured in the future has already been delayed several times.
Known as the social care green paper, the Government has missed several of its own deadlines to publish the plan.
During a meeting at County Hall, a motion critical of the Government was brought by Ashfield Independent councillors.
It pointed out the amount the Conservative-led county council is spending on social care was now £11.9 million more than it raised by council tax.
It said: “The green paper aimed to confront two issues: Chronic underfunding of the existing means tested care system caused by the huge cuts in government funding to councils since 2010 and the urgent need to protect self-funding people outside the current system from catastrophic care costs.”
However, the Conservative group at the council asked for this motion to be changed, and put forward its own motion, which was less critical of the Government, but still called on Westminster to publish the green paper.
Councillor David Martin, who represents Selston for the Ashfield Independents, said: “This is the biggest catastrophe facing Notts County Council.
“When we spend £12 million more on a single service than we raise in council tax then it’s clear this is urgent, and action is needed.
Conservative councillor Tony Harper, who represents Eastwood and is the head of social care at the council, added: “I’m desperate for that green paper, so we can plan for the short term, the medium and the long term, I can’t stress that enough.”
Councillor Joyce Bosnjak represents Mansfield North for Labour, and told the meeting: “There are a lot of injustices at the moment with social care, one of which is dementia, and the need of people with dementia to sell their homes to pay for their social care requirements.
“I have a son who has fought and won, hopefully, cancer in the last few months, and the care he had from the health service was absolutely incredible, second-to-none, and every last bit of it was funded by the health service.
“And I just see this sense of injustice, because what is the difference between someone who has dementia and someone who has cancer?
“I think everybody should be afforded the same level of treatment, regardless of where it’s coming from, social care or the health service.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are determined to fix the crisis in social care and will set out our proposals in due course.”
Kit Sandeman , Local Democracy Reporting Service