Responding to the Government framework published today which includes how the £2 billion extra funding for social over the next three years should be spent, Cllr Linda Thomas, Vice Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“The £1 billion of additional social care funding this year, followed by £674 million in 2018/19 and £337 million in 2019/20, represents vital funding needed for services caring for the most vulnerable older and disabled people in our communities over the next three years.
“Recent NHS England and NHS Improvement correspondence to NHS providers has encouraged local health colleagues to pursue ‘their share’ of the £2 billion to free up capacity in NHS acute services, with an explicit reference to the funding representing 2,000 to 3,000 more hospital beds. This is unhelpful and misleading.
“The Policy framework for the Better Care Fund, including the additional funding for social care, reiterates what was announced in the Budget by clearly stating that the funds can be used to meet adult social care need more generally and to help stabilise the care market as well as on measures to support hospital discharge.
“Councils and NHS partners will continue to work together to ensure people are discharged from hospital promptly and safely when a hospital stay is necessary.
“However, it is important to remember that social care is about much more than just freeing up hospital bed space. It is about providing care and support for people to enable them to live more independent, fulfilled lives, not just older people, but those with mental health conditions, learning and physical disabilities. Hospitals account for only one in five adult social care referrals, and so this new funding may best ease pressure on NHS and council services by being directed at addressing wider pressures, such as reversing planned cuts to adult social care provision, which would exacerbate pressure on local health services.
“Local councils and their NHS partners know where the pressures are in their communities better than anyone else. It is important that Clinical Commissioning Groups now work closely with councils to ensure Health and Wellbeing Boards can quickly agree plans to spend the extra funding so that councils can get on with implementing the measures most needed in their area.
“The extra funding announced in the Budget is just a starting point and short-term pressures remain. To close the funding gap still facing social care by 2020 and beyond additional funding needs to be recurrent and put into local government baselines.
“It is critical that the Government’s Green Paper on social care finds a long-term solution that reforms and fully funds our care system. This is essential if we are to ensure people can live independent, fulfilling lives in the community, and avoid widespread failure amongst organisations providing care.”