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Extra care funding is not enough, MPs warn

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The government’s pledge of an extra £300m to fund social care will not be enough to close the funding gap that councils face, according to a group of MPs.

The white paper on social care reform, published last week, said £100m would be transferred from NHS efficiency savings to local authorities in 2013-14 and £200m would be transferred in 2014-15.

However, a report by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on local government, which is chaired by the Conservative MP Heather Wheeler (left), said £634m would be needed per year to close the social care funding gap.

The report said the £622m of NHS money that will be transferred to social care budgets this year was only about half of the total amount needed annually.

It said figures from the Local Government Information Unit, which hosts the APPG, showed increases in the number of people with care and support needs had led to a 4.1% per year rise in spending.

Reforms

The report also said health and wellbeing boards should be given the right to challenge plans made by the NHS Commissioning Board “if they are not sufficiently in keeping with the joint health and wellbeing strategy.”

It said the NHSCB should have a “duty to cooperate” with HWBs, to promote “integration and collaborative working.”

The report also called for more integration between local government and the NHS, saying a “step change” was needed and community budgets were a way to achieve this.

The report noted concerns from social care providers about local authority fees, saying Bupa had claimed that some councils were “continuing to negotiate below-inflation increases,” a system that the provider thought was unsustainable.   

Dilnot Commission

The report also said the reforms proposed by the Dilnot Commission on social care reform, which health secretary Andrew Lansley last week said he was committed to “in principle,” would not offer complete protection against care costs.

“The Dilnot Commission estimates that, if its recommendations are implemented in full, no one would have to spend more than 30% of their assets to fund their care,” it said. “The protection against care costs is not as complete as it first appears.”

It warned food and accommodation costs, and paying for care that cost more than a local authority’s maximum level, meant “individuals could still find themselves paying very substantial costs.” It said the realisation that the cap was not absolute “is likely to lessen the meaningfulness of the proposals for many people.”

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