Umbrella groups make Spending Round plea for social care

29 Aug 19

If the chancellor does not continue to pay temporary grants for social care next financial year councils in England will be forced to decommission services, an umbrella group has warned.

The government has yet to confirm whether it will continue to pay three temporary grants worth £2.4bn this financial year. These include the ‘Better Care Fund’, which finishes its three-year cycle in 2019-20, the County Councils Network has said. The pot was worth £1.8bn to local authorities in England this year.

In the October 2018 Budget the chancellor handed out two one-year grants, also due to end this financial year. These are the ‘social care grant’, worth £316m to adult social care services and £94m to children’s services, and the ‘winter pressures grant’, totalling £239m.

The CCN urged the chancellor, who has served as communities secretary, to confirm in the Spending Round next week he will continue paying these funding streams into next year.

The group has also urged Sajid Javid to fully fund an estimated £652m increase in the cost of delivering care due to rising demand. These pressures will be felt most sharply in the counties with 36 county authorities in England making up around half of this figure at £314m. 

Councils will need to begin preparations for decommissioning during the Autumn to give care providers notice and they are asking for clarity on this from the Spending Round next week.

David Williams, chairman-elect of the CCN, said: “It would be inconceivable that the temporary grants – particularly the Better Care Fund – that have allowed us to prop up care services and address pressures on the NHS over the past few years, will not continue. But we are still in the dark over whether this lifeline for care services will continue.

“With budget planning for 2020-21 underway, we will reluctantly have to seek to decommission services that are directly funded by these grants in the coming months, in order to present a balanced budget next year – unless this funding is continued.”

CCN expressed concern that social care might be lost amongst government spending promises on police, schools and the NHS.

A separate report from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services also called for an extension of the Better Care Fund “to prevent further breakdown of essential care and support over the course of the next financial year”.

ADASS reiterated its calls for a long-term plan for adult social care which works alongside other public services such as the NHS.

The Treasury has been approached for comment.

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