UK Politics

PMQs: Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May social care 'crisis' clash

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn tells Theresa May: 'Get a grip and fund it properly please'

Elderly people are being left isolated because of a "crisis made in Downing Street" over social care funding, Jeremy Corbyn claimed.

The Labour leader urged Theresa May to replace a corporation tax cut with cash to cover social care costs as they clashed in PMQs.

It came with councils set to be offered extra tax rises to bring forward planned social care investment.

Mrs May promised a "long-term, sustainable system".

She also said Labour had done nothing to tackle the problem during its 13 years in government between 1997 and 2010.

Campaigners have been calling for investment to tackle what they say is a funding crisis in services for the elderly and disabled.

The government was criticised after funding for adult social care was not mentioned in last month's Autumn Statement, and local authorities have complained about cuts to the funding they receive from Whitehall.

Just before the start of PMQs in the Commons, it emerged the government would offer councils an increase in the extra council tax they can impose to cover social care costs.

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Media captionTheresa May: 'Let's look at 13 years of Labour in government... 13 years and no action whatsoever'

The so-called social care precept, currently capped at 2%, could go up to either either 3% or 4%, over the next two years.

But the total increase could be no more than 6% in total over three years, so the third year's precept would have to be reduced accordingly.

A 2% increase raises an estimated £200m.


'Tinkering around the edges'

Nick Triggle, BBC health correspondent

Make no mistake the government was forced into acting. For months it had been resisting.

But how generous is the move? Over the next two years it could mean an extra £600m is pumped into the system - not insignificant when you consider the yearly budget for elderly and disabled care is under £20bn.

The only problem is that council tax only accounts for about half local authority income - the rest mainly comes from central grants, which are being cut, and business rates, which are unpredictable. In short, there can be no guarantee by how much - if at all - care budgets will rise.

And since the numbers of elderly going without care, paying for it themselves or relying on family and friends currently outstrip those getting council help by four to one this is nothing more than tinkering around the edges.


Mr Corbyn said a 2% increase was a "nonsense", saying changes to council tax would raise more in wealthy areas.

He said government funding for social care was cut by £4.6bn in the last Parliament, accusing ministers of a "con" in transferring the burden to local authorities.

The social care sector is "deep in crisis", he said, adding: "The crisis is made in government, in Downing Street."

In response, Mrs May said the government was investing in social care through its Better Care Fund, as well as allowing councils to raise extra funds.

Find out the cost of care in your area

Measures to tackle the "immediate pressures" would be announced as part of the local government settlement, she added.

"This is not just about money - it is about delivery," she said, saying health and social care should be better integrated across the country.

The PM also said some Labour councils had not "taken the opportunity" by raising councils tax using the social care precept, adding that Labour had not offered "a penny more" in funding for local authorities ahead of the 2015 general election.

Penny Mordaunt, minister for disabled people, told BBC Radio 4's World at One that she was in favour of more local taxation but local authorities would need to be open about what they charged given the "astronomical" rises in council tax seen in the past.

She also said councils in more deprived areas, not able to raise such large sums in council tax as wealthier parts, needed to be able to meet demand for social care.

A Local Government Association source said the funding change would be insufficient for councils already facing significant pressure.