A committee of MPs has issued a “crucially important” call for the government to consider increasing national taxes as a way of solving the adult social care funding crisis.Two high-profile reports published this week highlighted the continuing funding crisis, one by the Commons communities and local government select committee, and the other by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).The select committee report concludes that inadequate funding was having a “serious impact” on both the quality and level of care, and said that a “long-term fix” was “urgently necessary”.It calls on the government to work with parties across the political spectrum as it prepares its green paper on the long-term funding of social care.The report says that any discussions should proceed on the basis that “all options are on the table”, including raising money from national taxation – such as income tax, national insurance or inheritance tax – purely to pay for social care. Days later, IFS published a report on changes in council-funded social care in England since 2009-10.The IFS report, funded by the charity the Health Foundation, found that spending by councils on social care per adult resident fell by 11 per cent in real terms between 2009-10 and 2015-16.But it also found a significant variation in spending between local authorities, with one in 10 spending less than £325 per adult resident, and one in 10 spending more than £445 per adult resident.About six in seven local authorities reduced adult social care spending over the seven years, with one in 10 cutting spending by more than a quarter, and one council cutting funding by nearly 40 per cent.Cuts were largest in London boroughs (an average of 18 per cent) and metropolitan districts such as Greater Manchester, Tyneside and Greater Birmingham (16 per cent), while they were lowest in southern shire counties (seven per cent) and southern unitary authorities (five per cent).Other research has shown that the number of people receiving local authority care between 2009-10 and 2013-14 fell by about a quarter, from 1.7 million to 1.3 million.Professor Peter Beresford (pictured), co-chair of the national servicer-user and disabled people’s network Shaping Our Lives, said he believed the select committee report’s recommendation to look at national taxation as a possible solution was “crucially important and in my view the only sustainable way forward” and “the first time for a long time” this had been raised.He said: “The scale of the crisis in social care funding is now reflected in the frequency and profile of major reports about it.”He added: “The respected IFS’s report reveals a disastrous and unravelling mess.“But it also paints a more complex picture than is usually offered, with significant differentials in local spend and some councils making much bigger cuts than others, as well as double whammies resulting from welfare cuts.”Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK (DR UK), said: “The cuts to social care outlined in the IFS report and the impact of underfunding of social care outlined in the select committee’s report will come as no surprise to disabled people who are reliant on social care, many of whom are effectively institutionalised in their own homes. “Once again we will all say how shocking these figures are, which they truly are, but will anything happen? “We are promised yet another green paper, giving us yet another opportunity to say what needs to happen. “DR UK will certainly engage in that process, arguing that disabled people’s support needs need to be funded and joined up so that we can enjoy independent living and play our part as full and equal citizens in our communities. “But faced with a government that is not listening we need to do much more joining with others, such as on the Independent Living Strategy Group [a network of disabled people’s organisations and their allies, chaired by the disabled peer Baroness (Jane) Campbell], and giving disabled people the tools to challenge the decisions that restrict our lives.”
Only about a third of local authorities have taken action to protect wheelchair-users from discrimination by drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles, more than eight months after the government gave them new powers to do so.The figures, compiled by transport access campaigner Doug Paulley, also show that nearly half of local authorities across England, Wales and Scotland have no firm plans in place to apply the new laws.On 6 April, the government finally brought into force legislation that imposes fines of up to £1,000 on drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles who refuse to accept wheelchair-users, try to charge them extra, or fail to provide them with appropriate assistance.But the new laws only apply in those areas of England, Scotland and Wales where the local authority has drawn up a list – under section 167 of the Equality Act – of all the wheelchair-accessible taxis and private hire vehicles in their area.The government had already been encouraging councils to start drawing up such lists for seven years before the law was brought into force.The Department for Transport (DfT) has also said that it should take no more than six months from April this year to bring in the new measures.But responses to freedom of information requests to local authorities from Paulley (pictured) have painted a bleak picture of progress since the law was finally implemented, he says.He already has information from more than 300 of the 347 local authorities that could use the new powers – if they choose to do so – and just 37 per cent have created a section 167 list; while another 15 per cent intend to do so by the end of March 2018.A further 21 per cent say they intend to create a list but have no timescale for when they will do so; 15 per cent have not made a decision on whether they will do so yet; and 12 per cent – nearly one in eight – have no current intention to draw one up.That is a slight improvement on the figures from his previous research, at the time the laws were introduced, when 18 per cent were undecided on whether to produce a list and 26 per cent had no plans to set one up.But Paulley, a wheelchair-user himself, said progress since April had been “inadequate”, despite some improvement in understanding by councils of the law and why the lists are required.He said the freedom of information responses showed “a complete disregard for disabled people’s rights and an incredible administrative inertia amongst authorities”.He also said that he feared they showed the new laws were “clunkily constructed and unusable” because – from the responses he has received so far – not a single driver has been prosecuted since they were introduced, even though discrimination is widespread.And he said the new figures were particularly worrying because of the stagnation in the numbers of wheelchair-accessible taxis and private hire vehicles in England and Wales, which fell from 50,065 in 2013 to 49,421 in 2015 and then rose slightly to 49,516 in 2017.He said there was also a postcode lottery in availability, with many areas having few if any wheelchair-accessible taxis or private hire vehicles.Disability News Service (DNS) has contacted three of the local authorities that told Paulley they have no plans to create a section 167 list: Nottingham City Council (NCC); Rushcliffe Borough Council, in Nottinghamshire; and Liverpool City Council.Nottingham’s refusal is particularly controversial because the council originally told Paulley earlier this year that it would not be creating a list, but when subsequently contacted by BBC’s The One Show, insisted that it would be doing so.Now its latest response says once again that it “does not currently have any documented plans to produce such a list”.An NCC spokeswoman said the council instead publishes a list of companies that provide wheelchair accessible taxis, because a list of wheelchair-accessible vehicles would “become out of date very quickly”.But it has failed to explain why it appears to have lied to The One Show, or why it does not want to protect wheelchair-users from discrimination.A Liverpool City Council spokesman said there was a local bylaw that allowed it to act against drivers who discriminate against wheelchair-users.It took the council more than five days to provide a copy of the bylaw, and when it was eventually emailed to DNS it showed that the rules only cover equipment and physical access to the vehicle, and say nothing about driver behaviour and discrimination against disabled passengers.By noon today (Thursday), Rushcliffe had not been able to explain why it has refused to create a section 167 list.A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “Disabled people must have the same opportunities to travel and access to transport as everyone else.“In April we implemented legislation to ensure wheelchair users travelling by taxi or private hire vehicle receive the assistance they require.“We strongly encourage councils that have not already done so to use these powers.”She said the department was “encouraged” by the response from those local authorities that had already created section 167 lists but “would like to see more authorities making the most of these powers”.
With the Super 8s just two weeks away Justin Holbrook’s side produced one of their most committed performances to date.The first half in particular was the best this season as they led 24-6.Danny Richardson and Theo Fages were at the hub, complemented by the lively James Roby and Jon Wilkin.They then weathered a strong Trinity second half fightback before running in two more tries.Richardson opened the scoring in the eighth minute after his deft kick forced a drop out.The pack did the damage and then the youngster backed himself, dropped his shoulder and sliced through the defence.But from the restart Saints dropped the ball and Matty Ashurst scored against his former employers.Saints spurned chances to get back in front but in the 18th minute the evergreen James Roby took his chance.This time it was Fages with the kick – Roby following it up and having the awareness to pounce after it had hit the bottom of the left post.It didn’t take long for Saints to increase that advantage too.Richardson set Ryan Morgan away on the right hand side; he popped it into the hands of Tommy Makinson who chipped over the top and then reclaimed the ball.Majestic stuff from the winger.Saints had their tails up and on the half hour mark scored again.Fages pushed his nose through and was hauled down by the defence but a quick play the ball saw Zeb Taia combine with Mark Percival to set Regan Grace flying down the left side side to touch down.24-6 to the Saints at half time.Clearly well the front foot, Saints needed to start the second half as they did the first – but they conceded within the first couple of minutes.A knock on gave the hosts to the chance to take advantage and Scott Grix profited.And five minutes later it was almost game on as Saints had to defend back to back penalties.But Wakefield spilled the ball.Scrappy play was affecting both side’s attacking capabilities but Saints D was called up on numerous occasions to quell Trinity’s fast play.But Percival added his fifth goal of the afternoon to edge Saints out after Taia was dragged back as he went for a Richardson kick.Wakefield aren’t a top four side this season for no reason through and on the hour mark a free-flowing passing move saw Mason Caton-Brown pull his side to within 10 points.Percival added another penalty in the 67th minute to settle the nerves before LMS came up with the gamebreaker.Richardson’s monster kick was tapped back by Makinson and it was sent through hands for prop to scorch over.Zeb Taia then crossed following a Fages’ break.And Danny Richardson capped a great performance with a drop goal as the hooter sounded.Match Summary:Trinity: Tries: Ashurst, Grix, Caton-Brown Goals: Finn (2 from 3)Saints: Tries: Richardson, Roby, Makinson, Grace, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Taia Goals: Percival (8 from 8) Drop: RichardsonPenalties Awarded: Trinity: 9 Saints: 4HT: 6-24 FT: 16-41REF: J ChildATT: 5580Teams:Trinity: 1. Scott Grix; 5. Ben Jones-Bishop, 4. Reece Lyne, 3. Bill Tupou, 24. Mason Caton-Brown; 14. Sam Williams, 7. Liam Finn; 33. Adam Walker, 9. Kyle Wood, 17. Craig Huby, 32. Dean Hadley, 11. Matty Ashurst, 16. Tinirau Arona. Subs: 8. Anthony England, 12. Danny Kirmond, 20. David Fifita, 34. James Hasson.Saints: 1. Jonny Lomax; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 28. Regan Grace; 6. Theo Fages, 24. Danny Richardson; 14. Luke Douglas, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 36. Zeb Taia, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 12. Jon Wilkin. Subs: 8. Alex Walmsley, 10. Kyle Amor, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 20. Morgan Knowles.