The Times today leads on a letter sent to the paper from over Council leaders and Adult Social Care lead members from over 70 councils. The letter declares that proposals in the Government's Personal Care at Home Bill are "unclear, unfunded and are likely to have a significant impact on existing local services, including possible cuts and rises in council tax." The paper reports this under the headline: "Councils say Brown care plan misleads the elderly." The letter points to research which indicates "the cost to local authorities would amount to about £580 million per annum as opposed to the £250 million assumed in the proposals."
The letter concludes:
It is also wrong to raise expectations among many of the most vulnerable in our society and their families that they may be in a position to benefit from these proposals when the reality may be
significantly different. We are therefore calling for the Government to commission urgently an independent review of these proposals, including an analysis of the financial position, before progressing any farther.
What makes the letter much harder for the Government to dismiss is the number of Labour, and Labour led, councils that have endorsed it. South Tyneside, Waltham Forest, Durham and Sunderland were the ones I spotted scrolling down the list. For Labour councillors to be signing up so close to a General Election shows the level of anger at the Government's cynicism on this issue. Naturally there has been some desperate arm twisting going on. The Times says three Labour councillors signed but then requested their names be removed.
It follows earlier criticism from the Labour peer Lord Lipsey.