Real-terms boost of 6% allocated to social services

18 Apr 02
Social services chiefs reacted positively to the Budget announcement of a doubling to 6% of annual real-terms growth in social services spending.

19 April 2002

Andy Bell of the King's Fund said: 'It has to be good news that the gap between health and social care has been narrowed. It reflects a recognition at the highest level that they are part of the same system.'

Ahead of a more detailed announcement by Health Secretary Alan Milburn, local government leaders were trying to work out what the increase might amount to in practice.

One source suggested to Public Finance that, given existing year-on-year increases, a 6% rise next year might amount to £200m. This falls far short of the £1bn gap that the Local Government Association calculates exists between the social services Standard Spending Assessment and the true level of need.

The other major concern is the terms on which any new funding is being offered. Suggestions that it would largely focus on easing 'bedblocking' – via a carrot-and-stick method of financing – have been greeted with scepticism.

Mike Leadbetter, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said: 'We are worried that this approach could lead to inappropriate or rushed placements of vulnerable people. We also fail to see why the extra money needs to be made conditional, when social services has shown it can achieve results without such strings attached.'


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