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NHS and care leaders demand crisis talks with Treasury

Front-loading NHS funding without backing social care ‘counterintuitive’ and threatens NHS

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 09 December 2015

Front-loading NHS funding without investing sufficiently in social care is counterintuitive and threatens NHS sustainability, health and social care sector and council leaders warned the government this morning. In their joint letter, they called for crisis talks with the Treasury and other government departments to resolve the issue of social care funding and give the NHS a “fighting chance” of transforming care delivery.

In his spending review last month, George Osborne said that by allowing local authorities the option of raising council tax by 2% to spend purely on social care in their areas, as well as increasing the amount of money available to the Better Care Fund, he was protecting social care budgets. But in their letter, the NHS Confederation, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Care Provider Alliance and the Care and Support Alliance disputed the chancellor of the exchequer’s claims.

They pointed out that there is great variation in councils’ receipts from council tax, with those in poorer areas worse off; and that the extra £1.5bn for the Better Care Fund doesn’t start until 2019. They warned that as a result services still face a funding gap that is putting vulnerable people at risk.

NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster said: “The NHS is not an island, it is part of a single system. It is counterintuitive to talk about front-loading NHS funding while not doing the same for social care. Without sufficient investment in social care the sustainability of the NHS is called into question. It is vital that to achieve the government’s aims of transforming care that we work together to agree a long-term plan for social care funding and provide support closer to home to help people to stay well.

“By resolving the question of social care funding we will give the NHS a fighting chance of transforming the care that is delivered and ensure the most vulnerable in society are receiving the support when and where they need it.”

The Local Government Association has calculated that during the current parliament alone, local government funding from central government will fall by almost a quarter (24%) in real terms. LGA community wellbeing spokesperson Cllr Izzi Seccombe added: “It cannot be solely left to local council taxpayers to fix our chronically underfunded social care system. If proper funding for social care is not urgently addressed, essential services will remain increasingly at risk.”

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