Newbury and West Berkshire Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson Judith Bunting, today welcomed the government’s upcoming changes to health and social care funding and their tightening of the rules as to how this funding must be used. Norman Lamb’s changes mean people in Newbury and West Berkshire with ‘substantial’ social needs should now get a better deal from West Berkshire Council.
Judith requested an urgent meeting at the Department of Health to discuss the imminent crisis in care in West Berkshire caused by the mismanagement of local health funding by Richard Benyon’s Conservative Council. For the past ten years the Council has provided social care only for those in ‘critical’ need.
Judith said: “The number of older people living in West Berks has gone up by more than 30% in the past ten years. During this time, West Berkshire Council has resolutely refused to respond to this change in population and cover the care of people in ‘substantial’ need. ”
At the meeting on Monday, Minister for Health, Norman Lamb, told Judith Bunting and the Liberal Democrat Council Group Leader, Jeff Brooks: “There is no way we could possibly justify giving additional funding to West Berkshire and the two other Tory councils who now have to adjust their care levels to ‘substantial’ from ‘critical’ only. All other Councils in England already fund care for people with substantial needs. To provide additional funding now would be to penalise every other Council in England for taking good care of their residents.”
Commenting, Judith Bunting said: “That the money provided by government for this has been spent elsewhere, is the Council’s choice. I have long been concerned that our resources for vulnerable people in West Berkshire are under-used, while those in ‘substantial’ need have been going without assistance. In 2013 I met Sybil Flinn at the Resource Centre in Hungerford (see above). The care offered by the team there was outstanding and with the right funding they could easily have catered for more clients.”
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, also refused Richard Benyon and his Council’s plea for more money to make up the claimed ‘shortfall’ in funding.