Belfast Telegraph

Union urges Government to spend business rates surplus on social care

Surplus cash from business rates should be spent on tackling the country's social care "crisis", the Government is being urged.

Unison said a "windfall" of £2.4 billion has yet to be allocated, but should be earmarked for investment in homecare.

Cuts to local government spending have led to a reduction in older people receiving home care, a fall in the number of day care places and in meals-on-wheels services, all of which is putting huge pressure on the already stretched NHS, said Unison.

If local authorities in England were given an extra £2.4 billion, it would remove the need for the 2% council tax precept, it was claimed.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "The social care system is in dire straits. There's simply not enough money to fund the care that's needed.

"The losers are the thousands of dedicated homecare workers, who work long hours, and whose already low wages are dragged below the legal minimum because of the non-payment of travel time.

"Those suffering the most are the elderly and the disabled, who rely on daily visits so they can stay in their own homes. Visits are often too short to administer the care needed, or care packages simply aren't available. Then people have to stay in hospital far longer than is good for them, in beds that are desperately needed for other patients.

"Investing £2.4 billion in social care would be money extremely well spent. Not only would it mean better care for the elderly, it would ease the pressure on homecare staff, and free up beds in the NHS."