Loss of lives due to Covid-19 means Cambridgeshire County Council will spend £2.4m less on older people
Cambridgeshire County Council is expecting to spend £2.4million less on the care of older people in the next year due the “devastating” number of lives lost to Covid-19.
Chairing a meeting of the authority’s adult and health committee last Thursday (October 14), Cllr Richard Howitt said all members would recognise the terrible human loss behind the numbers.
The committee was meeting to discuss the older people’s budget as the council begins preparing its 2022-23 spending plans.
“One issue is the dramatic impact, sadly, that bereavement because of Covid has had on our budget and changing some of the budget expectations,” said Cllr Howitt (Lab, Petersfield), who was hospitalised with the virus in spring 2020.
“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.
“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.”
The report highlighted that the committee is facing a shortfall overall of more than £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 discussed some of its planned spending, including changes in 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 the new model aim to have 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.
The plans will return to the committee in December, before going before full council in January.