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CAMBRIDGESHIRE NOT VICTIMISED THROUGH SSA, SAYS MINISTER

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Hansard, 11 Nov:Column 326 ...
Hansard, 11 Nov:Column 326

Conservative Andrew Lansley told the commons on Wednesday that hospitals in Cambridgeshire had 83 patients who were awaiting places in nursing or residential care homes while the county council was caring for 117 people in the community who should be in residential or nyursing homes.

Mr Lansley, MP for South Cambridgeshire, said he wanted to demonstrate that despite the benefit of measures being followed by the health authority and Cambridgeshire social services, an increase in core funding for social services was necessary to prevent the situation deteriorating. The funding provided via the health authority to deal with winter pressures did not meet all the problems and, in some respects, exacerbated them. Places purchased by social services created a revenue implication which has to be borne by social services, estimated this year at£400,000.

'At the same time as winter pressures money was being provided through the health authority, Cambridgeshire CC's social services standard spending assessment was cut by£1m, not in real terms but in cash. The government are therefore effectively giving with one hand while taking away with the other'.

He asked health minister John Hutton to enhance the SSA in the coming round; to end ad hoc winter pressures funding and make funding reflect the continuing revenue costs of such placements; and to end the process whereby the government are effectively paying for social services activity with health money.

Mr Hutton said the interdependence of health and social care made it essential that the provider agencies collaborate effectively in service planning and commissioning, assessment and delivery, not least funding. The recent discussion paper, Partnership in Action, sets out plans for a new statutory duty of partnership. It also envisage a significant widening of health authority powers, with funding going to local authorities in support of objectives set out in health improvement programmes.

He added that the£260m allocated last winter for tackling winter pressures was 'not just elastoplast for the winter'. It provided an opportunity for longer-term improvements in services, relationships and systems.

Mr Hutton said: 'Cambridgeshire's standard spending assessment per head is below the national average, but the honorable genetleman should bear in mind that the SSA reflects the relative need for social services in an area, which research has shown to be linked to the extent of social deprivation. Cambridgeshire is a less deprived area overall, so we might expect it to have less social need than the average authority. For example, in 1996 around 15% of people over 60 in Cambridgeshire were on income support, compared with more than 40% in Tower Hamlets and Hackney'.

The minister concluded: 'There is no question of Cambridgeshire being unfairly treated in the allocation or victimised by the change in the method of distributing resources'.

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