WEST BERKSHIRE COUNCIL CONSERVATIVE GROUP
10th February 2015
Conservatives unsurprised at Lib Dem failure to fund Care Act
Conservatives at West Berkshire Council were unsurprised by last minute attempts by local LiberalDemocrats to secure the funding that had been promised by the government to implement the 2014 Care Act in full. Part of the Act places a duty on all local authorities to widen the eligibility from the threshold defined as ‘critical’ to a new national minimum eligibility level.
In 2003 the Liberal Democrat controlled administration at West Berkshire Council set the eligibility threshold at ‘critical. The West Berkshire Council position on this was tested in a court case in 2012 who ruled that West Berkshire Council was acting lawfully and was ‘balancing matters properly’.
At the time it was noted that the ‘critical’ threshold has been used to determined eligibility for our statutory services, but West Berkshire Council had always provided a range of preventative and universal support services to far more people than those whose needs are deemed to be ‘critical’.
Government Ministers are on record in Hansard and elsewhere as stating that they would fully fund the implementation of the Care Act and they are now refusing to do so to the detriment of those local authorities who originally set the eligibility threshold at ‘Critical.’
Cllr. Gordon Lundie, Leader of West Berkshire Council explained: “We welcome the widening of care provision for the people of West Berkshire. There is a shortfall, though, in funding for this year’s Budget of at least £3m and we shall need a plan to cover this off. What is worse is that this will be recurring additional expenditure in future years. The attitude of the Liberal Democrat Minister is puzzling as there has been no proper explanation from him as to why the government is now refusing to fund fully the implementation of the Care Act. We remain, however, in discussions with the Department of Health.
Cllr Gordon Lundie (07703 201 241)