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'High number of deaths' in West Berkshire care homes due to Covid-19

'Significant drop' in the number of people receiving long-term adult social care due as a result, councillor confirms

Council tax set to rise by four per cent from April

West Berkshire care homes have lost a “high number” of people to Covid-19, Local Democracy Reporter Nathan Hyde reports.

Across the district, 132 people had lost their lives to the virus by August 21 and 64 of those deaths were recorded in care homes, according to Office for National Statistics figures.

The deputy leader West Berkshire Council, Graham Bridgman, said there has been a “significant drop” in the number of people receiving long-term adult social care in West Berkshire since March as a result of the deadly outbreak.

At a meeting of West Berkshire Council’s executive last night (Thursday), he said: “Regrettably, yet again we’re going to have to say it’s largely due to Covid.

“We’ve had a high number of deaths.”

There are now 1,623 adults receiving long-term social care in West Berkshire, down from 1,692 in March 2020.

There are also around 50 people still waiting for care assessments, due to delays caused by the pandemic.

Mr Bridgman said: “We are predicting, going forward, an underspend across adult social care of just under £600,000 and the, regrettably, has a lot to do with a high number of deaths in our client base.”

At Thursday’s meeting, he explained that almost 40 per cent of the council’s budget (£50m) is spent on adult social care, and the cost of caring for an ageing population continues to rise.

He said: “The Government must provide funding that is sufficient to meet the additional demands arising from Covid plus – and this is the really important bit – the pre-existing pressures.

“We know how the adult social care budget has risen over the past number of years.”

The Conservative councillor insisted that the Government should provide councils with an “adequate and sustainable long-term funding model” and there are long-standing challenges that need to be addressed with “ambitious” reform.

“The huge question for all of us is how we, as a society, are going to pay for an ageing demographic,” he said.

“I think we have to address this as part of the overall debate about adult social care – we have to make people aware, particularly young people, about the issues they might face in older age, while they are young enough to do something about it.

“Most people want more money in retirement than they are going to get from the state pension, so they save into a pension plan and the Government does something to incentivise them to save.

“But we also need people to understand the additional costs of old age. Too many people wait too long to think about their future.”

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