Earlier this week Shropshire Council published its Adult Social Care Strategy for the next three years. This is a timely statement of the state of adult social care in the county, setting a clear vision to meet the growing demands on the system as our population ages.
The basic facts and underlying trends are not unique to our county, but mean there are increasing needs for social care services.
At the last count there were 76,000 people aged over 65, being 23.9% of Shropshire’s population - this is projected to grow to 33.5% by 2041. Even more strikingly, the number of those of us over 85 is projected to more than double.
This has significant consequences for social care, as more of us are able to live longer, we do so with increasing long-term health conditions.
This demographic change and its implications for health and social care been recognised at both a national and local level.
The government is due to publish a White Paper this autumn on reforming the funding of social care. Last week an additional £247 million of funding was announced for local authorities to help with pressure this winter.
Shropshire Council’s strategy rightly emphasises what is being done currently and what needs to be done so more of us can continue to live independently at home. Working in a more joined-up way to create more resilient communities and using assistive technology will play an increasing role.
The costs of providing social care in as large a geographic county as Shropshire are higher than in more urban or metropolitan areas. This is something I have been working to demonstrate to the Government, and through the All Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Services I have been chairing evidence sessions in Parliament to prepare a report to inform the White Paper. This work supports the Council own experience that cost pressure is expected to continue. Shropshire will fund these increasing costs from its own reserves for the next two years. Thereafter Shropshire needs the new funding formula to be in place, so I shall be working to press upon Government the need to do so swiftly.