Social care will only improve if the Government cuts through the “horseshit” which sees the NHS and councils not working together, the Tory chief of the Local Government Association warned today.
In a forthright attack on his own party, Lord Porter claimed Theresa May wasn’t going to “fix” the social care crisis facing local authorities, and argued her rebranding of the Department of Health to include “Social Care” in the title was merely window dressing.
Speaking at the Local Government Association’s annual conference in Birmingham on Tuesday, Lord Porter also tore into the Government’s aim to solve the housing crisis – again questioning his own party’s desire to “fix” the problem.
His no-nonsense speech came before a keynote speech by Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire, who received a mixed reception from the local councillors in the audience – one of whom called for more money, not “warm words”, to help authorities deliver key services.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Lord Porter reflected on his recent stay in hospital after a triple heart-bypass, saying one person on his ward didn’t want to go home because the council had not repaired his flat door which had been damaged by vandals.
Lord Porter said it was a classic example of how local authorities and the NHS could work closer together to free-up beds.
He said: “Sometimes that will be about us nicking a bit of health money, sometimes it will be the health service nicking a bit of our money.
“It’s just cutting through the horseshit and our silo mentality and working together.”
Turning his guns on the Government, Lord Porter – who is a member of Spalding Council in Lincolnshire – said: “People are now panicking because Jeremy Hunt’s now got social care in the job title. It was always in the bloody job title, they’ve just elevated it up to the top. It’s like [they say in] ‘Yes, Minister’ – as soon as they put the name of the problem in the front of the title, that means they’re not going to fix it, that’s how it works.”
He added: “That’s why Housing is now in DCLG. They aren’t going to fix it are they because they put it in the bloody job title in the top.”
The conference began on the same day the LGA released a new report warning that councils in England face a funding gap of £7.8 billion by 2025.
Adult social care is the area facing the largest financial deficit – with £3.5 billion needed just to deliver the same service currently offered.
In his first speech to the LGA since becoming Secretary of State, Brokenshire made no mention of the new analysis but did say: “I know that the social care system is under significant pressure and we are committed to ensuring it is sustainable for the future.”
In a question session after his time at the podium, one councillor said he was “astonished” at the lack of a promise for extra cash, saying: “I feel really sad that these are warm words about renaissance and revision, actually what we need is more money and we need to have that honest debate.”
HuffPost UK asked Brokenshire if he would follow the lead of other cabinet members such as Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and begin publicly to “knock on the Chancellor’s door” to get more money for local government.
Brokenshire replied: “I recognise the pressures that local government feels. The need for that long-term arrangement for social care which we will bring forward in the Green Paper but also what the spending review will bring.
“That’s why I am listening carefully and intently to the pressures that I know many of you are experiencing and I will champion the best interests of local government.”
He hit back at Lord Porter’s criticism of the Government’s attitude towards housing, saying: “This is an absolute priority for the government.”
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