FEARS have been raised by counvillors over the social care reforms being "rammed" through Parliament.

MPs voted in favour of the Government’s plan to increase National Insurance to help fund the NHS and social care last week.

The issue was highlighted during St Helens’ full council meeting at the Town Hall shortly before the vote.

Labour’s Cllr Derek Long, who serves West Park and is a former leader of St Helens Council, told members that many residents across the borough are deeply worried about the changes in the care system that is "currently being rammed through" the Houses of Parliament "without any consultation at all".

St Helens Star: Council leader Derek Long

Cllr Derek Long

He said: “I proudly represent the West Park ward, where many residents work in social care and many more are aged over 65.

“One in eight of our workforce work in health and social care in this borough, one in five of our residents are aged over 65 – they surely should have had a chance to have their questions answered and their concerns allayed before this process has been started.

“Is it enough money for our social care? Cllr Quinn will be able to maybe give us some indications, very early days, but I would say plainly not.

“Are we confident or do we have concerns about the next few years’ funding for the care of adults in this borough?”

Labour’s Cllr Marlene Quinn, who also serves West Park and is the council’s cabinet member for integrated care and health, said the council made a pledge, in May, on its budget.

“We had a three-year strategy looking at our savings, which was short-term, medium-term, long-term,” she added.

“I have every confidence in our officers, our workforce and Labour members at the moment that we will deliver the promises we made.

“What the announcement today has done is thrown out many, many things that there is no strategy behind to start off with.

“I don’t think we’ve really been consulted as local authorities – we’ve chipped in and told them what we needed, social care, NHS have.

“I have every confidence in our workforce, our relationships with our care homes, our officers of the council to guide us through this, but what I have no confidence in at the moment is that local government – be it politicians, be it the care sector, or anyone else – has been listened to by the Government.

“So until we get sight of the strategy, how it will affect us, I’d be Merlin, not Marlene, in saying that ‘yes, we have confidence, we can do this and go forward’.

“The confidence I have is in the plans we set out and what will be forthcoming we will have to wait and see.”