Council expects to spend £2.4m less on older people due to 'Covid loss'

Cambs County Councillor Richard Howitt

Cllr Richard Howitt “The Covid pandemic has reached a challenging stage for us.” - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire County Council is expecting to spend “significantly” less on older people in the next year due to the “devastating” number of lives lost to Covid-19.

The county council is currently estimating that it will spend £2.4million less in its older person care in the next year due to “covid loss”.

At a meeting of the council’s adults and health committee, the councillors were presented with a report in preparation for the council’s budget next year.

In the report it said: “We were forecasting a significant underspend on the older people’s budget for this financial year as a result of the devastating impact of Covid-19 on older people.

“This is reflected by a reduction in the baseline budget.”

The chair of the meeting, Councillor Richard Howitt, said it was recognised by all on the committee that behind the figures were people who were ‘not just a number’.

He said: “One issue is the dramatic impact, sadly, that bereavement because of covid has had on our budget and changing some of the budget expectations.

“Although there are lots of figures associated with that in our report I’m sure all of us across all of the parties would understand and respect the fact that each bereaved person has a family and isn’t just a number.

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“We’ve agreed to call this ‘covid loss’ when we debate it out of respect for the families that will be aware that we’re having such discussions.

“I know that that’s something all of us will be deeply sensitive to.”

Overall the report highlighted that the committee is facing a shortfall of over £19m in its adults and health budget for the next financial year.

The report said: “Adults and health budgets are predominantly demand led and Covid-19 has impacted significantly on services and the future impact is uncertain.

“The recently announced social care reforms may present additional financial risks for the council, but the full extent of these is still being understood.”

The committee did discuss some of its planned investments for the coming years including plans in changing how the council commissions domiciliary care.

A council officer explained that the current system means carers are “going up and down the A14 delivering personal care”, whereas plans for a new model to having carers who “live and work in their own community”.

The council is also planning on introducing the real living wage over a two to three year “phasing” period.

Funding for training in other departments for the impact on health and social care to be considered in all major policy decisions.

Council officers are due to bring the further developed plans to the committee in December, before going before full council in January.