Monday, 13 February 2017 14:41

Rural social care is underfunded – network

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural social care is underfunded – network

A BETTER system is needed to meet the social care needs of elderly rural residents, the Rural Services Network has warned.

Better funding was needed to address rural social care needs compared to urban needs, said network chief executive Graham Biggs.

"I don't think there should be a difference in the level of service you should expect," he told BBC Radio4's Farming Today programme.

"But in practice the differential in funding between rural areas and urban areas means that there is a significant difference."

    See also: 'Patchy' services blight rural areas, warns report

Much of the problem was down to differences in funding and costs when it came to providing services in the countryside compared to larger rowns and cities.

"You have two factors: the amount of money that is available and the actual cost of meeting the services in rural compared to urban."

By 2039, it was estimated that one in three rural residents would be older than 65, with 11% of those older than 80, said Mr Biggs.

It was more difficult and more expensive to deliver services to isolated rural communities compared to people in urban areas.

Core adult social care resources for the next financial year amounted to £22 per head in rural areas compared to £21 per head, said Mr Biggs.

Rural areas were spending more per head but the government funded 24% of that expenditure with the remaining 76% coming from council tax.

In urban areas, the government was funding 34% with just 66% coming from council tax.

Mr Biggs said: "There is an implicit government policy that social care and indeed all other services should be more costly to the ratepayer in rural areas than in urban."

Although rural community spirit was strong, and people were willing to help each other, it could not possibly be expected to meet the care needs of elderly residents, said Mr Biggs.

A better system was needed so county councils and unitary councils had sufficient resources, staff and placements to look after rural residents.

The Department of Health said the budget for social care was provided between itself and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

It added: "Social care funding ultimately comes from central government and is allocated through a formula that works out social care need.

"Then it is up to local areas to allocate resources and funding, as they will be best placed to understand their local community's needs."

To listen to the full interview, on BBC Radio 4 Farming Today, click here. The interview starts at approximately 7 mins 50 seconds.

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