By David Williams
24 November 2010
Social care services should not have to suffer because of
the spending cuts imposed in last month’s Comprehensive Spending Review, Health
Secretary Andrew Lansley has said.
Giving evidence to the Commons health select committee
yesterday, Lansley said he did not expect councils to tighten their eligibility
criteria, and denied that they were under financial pressure that could lead to
He acknowledged that the central government formula grant
had been reduced but said the DoH had made available a number of other grants,
including the learning disability transfer grant, which were not being cut. He
added: ‘Local authorities, in the context of their council tax, are not seeing
a reduction in cash terms of the resources available to them.’ The ‘more
extreme scenarios’ for the future of social care were not likely to happen in
reality, he said.
But committee member Grahame Morris said care homes were already
closing as a result of the spending cuts, while day-care charges were
Lansley responded that ‘the bulk’ of social care funding in
many authorities came from local sources such as council tax, rather than
central government grants.
‘The headline overall real-terms reduction in formula grant
doesn’t necessarily translate into a corresponding reduction in resources for
social care – far from it.’
The health secretary also told the committee that the £1bn
of extra Department of Health funding, announced in the CSR for local
authorities to spend on social care, should not be spent on maintaining basic
The new cash should be focused on ‘re-ablement’, he said –
keeping people as independent as they can be for as long as possible. It should
draw on the potential of ‘telecare’ technology and support for people who have
recently left hospital. Lansley said this spending would help to reduce the
burden on basic social care services.
He added that in conversations he had had with local authorities
they suggested they ‘would not regard cutting eligibility as something they
would immediately resort to’.
However, the Association of Directors of Adult Social
Services said social care budgets would inevitably be hit as a result of
formula grant cuts.
John Jackson, co-chair of Adass’s resources network, told Public Finance: ‘The Department of
Health has recognised the pressures on adult social care and has sought to
include some additional resources to try and help.
‘But the overall grant settlement for local authorities sees
a reduction of 26% – that’s after the injection of the additional resources.
‘If local authorities are having to reduce spending by about
a quarter, as it is such a big proportion of the controllable budget, adult
social care will have to find savings broadly in line with that.’
He said councils would be interested in re-ablement as a way
of cutting costs out of other parts of the system, but added that the ‘big
question’ was how far they could go beyond efficiency savings of 3% a year
without cutting services.