ONE of Blackpool’s top councillors has backed calls for urgent reforms to the funding of the social care system.
Coun Kath Rowson says action is needed now to meet the needs of an ageing population.
She says she agrees with a report, from healthcare think tank the Nuffield Trust, which has said more public funds will have to be found to stop vulnerable older people from falling through the net and to support those who face high, unpredictable care costs.
The report said there should be a national review of the balance across heath, social care and welfare payments.
And Coun Rowson said she felt the issue did need to be looked into.
Blackpool Council currently spends £44.5m a year on adult social care.
The Nuffield report says the national spend will have to rise from £14.6bn in 2010/11 to £23bn in 2025/26.
Coun Rowson said: “Now is the time to act and something does need to be done. The Government needs to look into this matter – any Government would. And to come up with sensible, fair and sustainable measures for the future.
“Something does have to be done and the issue needs to be looked at very carefully.
“People are living longer and we will have more older people. Here in Blackpool, we have a high percentage of older people and we do what we can.
“But it’s not easy in the current climate, with the problems in the economy and cuts being made on top of cuts in funding.
“Looking after vulnerable people is one of our highest priorities and must be for any caring council.”
The Nuffield Trust has suggested much of the extra money needed could be found from the £140bn of state funding already spent on older people.
But it said if it cannot, higher taxation of more wealthy older people could be needed.
It suggested the shortfall could be plugged by restricting some of the universal benefits, such as winter fuel allowance, free TV licenses and bus passes.
Coun Rowson said she felt means-testing may not be the answer as it often meant people in the middle-income bracket ended up losing out.
Anita Charlesworth, chief economist of the Nuffield Trust, said: “The social care system is looking increasingly unsustainable.
“There is growing support for the principle of sharing costs between individuals and the state.”