“This rightly recognises the significant work that councils have had to undertake to make sure that vulnerable people do not suffer at the hands of last-minute government changes to the Better Care Fund.
“Councils, health partners and MPs have all recognised that continuing to protect and invest money in the NHS whilst forcing councils to cut their already chronically underfunded social care budgets is a false economy which risks leaving councils unable to alleviate the pressure on the NHS and the most vulnerable people in danger of losing vital community care. Protection for social care funding now needs to be urgently addressed in a similar way as it has been for the NHS.
“Local government has long argued that a local approach is the only way to bring together health and social care and not a top-down approach from Whitehall. The micro-management of this process and the redesign of the fund have seen no significant changes in the plans themselves or in the care and support they can be expected to bring to people who need it most. It is obviously too soon to draw conclusions about the success of the Better Care Fund at this stage.
“The failure to set out the £1 billion savings target to councils along with Ministers’ decisions to move the goal posts to respond to financial concerns raised by the NHS has made carrying out these plans more difficult and left many councils with very little time to implement the changes before the April 2015 deadline.
“While it was clear from the outset that the Better Care Fund was not bringing in new money for health and social care, the fundamental problem started when the £3.8 billion pool was placed in the spending power for both the NHS and local government, making the process competitive rather than collaborative.
“Local government is still committed to the principles of health and social care integration, but it must be a shared ambition.”