Welsh Local Government Association defends councils following “insulting and unsubstantiated comments” by social care leader
A body that represents local authorities in Wales has slammed comments made by the chair of Care Forum Wales after the Welsh government announced a £48m package of funding to support social care.
The majority of the funding – £40m – has been allocated to local authorities and will be used to help the social care sector meet the ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic.
Mario Kreft MBE (pictured above) has said he fears that giving the bulk of a new funding package to Welsh councils will be like “putting foxes in charge of the hen house”.
Mr Kreft, the chair of Care Forum Wales, says that local authorities cannot be trusted to distribute the cash from Welsh Government fairly.
The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) – which represents the interests of local government has hit back calling Mr Kreft’s comments “insulting and unsubstantiated”.
While more money was very much welcomed, said, Mr Kreft, it would not significantly change anything unless the “broken social care system was fixed” first.
Mr Kreft said: “We are hugely grateful to the Welsh Government for prioritising social care in this way and it is clear they recognise the unprecedented challenges we have faced and continue to face.”
“We would not have had the exemplary support we have received so far during this pandemic had it not been for Welsh Government who put in place very strong criteria.”
“The first tranche of the hardship fund which ran until the end of June last year was given to local authorities without guidance and, in some areas, it did not reach where it should have done, with some councils being more supportive than others.”
“The Welsh Government looked at that and decided that a better mechanism was needed.”
“So giving councils this extra £40 million without stringent guidelines to ensure it reaches the front line is like putting foxes in charge of the hen house.”
“It is the case that the majority of social care, particularly for older people, is provided by the independent sector but I suspect the bulk of the money isn’t going to go there.”
“Some local authorities will do their best but we have some councils that would much rather not work with the independent sector.”
“They are openly saying they want to take services in house so this presents them with another opportunity to bolster their own provision at the expense of the people being cared for by the independent sector.”
“This already happening. The fees they pay to their own council-run care homes are far in excess of what they allocate to independent care homes and the wages they pay are higher than the budget they allocate to the independent providers to pay our staff.”
“As far as local authorities are concerned, they will see this as another golden opportunity to feather their own nests.”
“It is imperative that this money is channelled directly to the front line across Wales and that councils are not allowed to cream the money off the top.”
“The current model of funding which has been in operation for a quarter of a century is clearly not fit for purpose and never has been.”
“Funding is allocated via local councils and health boards which means we essentially have 29 variations on a theme which is absolute nonsense.”
“The vast majority of care home residents are publicly funded and providers have been forced to dance to the varying tunes of local councils for a generation.”
“The overwhelming priority must be to devise a national action plan to implement long-term structural change to mend a system that’s broken and fragmented.”
The WLGA defended councils and the “dedicated social care workforce” Mr Kreft’s comments, Councillor Andrew Morgan (Rhondda Cynon Taf), WLGA Leader said:
“Hard working health and social care staff have been Wales’ heroes during the pandemic.”
“These comments are as unfortunate as they are insulting to a workforce that has been stretched to breaking point.”
“Partnership has been a key feature over the past 18 months, which makes these comments even more disappointing.”
“As has become crystal clear to us all, dedicated care workers continue to go above and beyond to care for the most vulnerable in society, and will not be lectured to by faceless, profit-driven individuals.”
“We will get through this crisis together and local councils will work with all their partners in health and the voluntary sector and committed, constructive partners in the independent sector. ”
“We are also committed to working to help deliver Welsh Government’s ambition to rebalance the social care sector, deliver the Real Living Wage, remove profit motive from children’s services and focus on meeting the social care needs and improving the wellbeing of the vulnerable in our communities.”
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