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Call for social care budget protection

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Assurances are being sought that adult social care budgets will be protected, ahead of the start date for plans to integrate health and social care services.

The LGA is also calling for a ‘transition fund’ to minimise the impact of integrating health and social care services on councils’ budgets, six months before local authorities implement the better care fund.

An LGA spokeswoman told LGC there was not a specific figure in mind for the transition fund, but said it was envisaged that the money would come on top of the £3.8bn better care fund, a pooled-budget programme which is designed to incentivise councils and the NHS to integrate health and social care services.

The requests from the LGA come on the day that health secretary Jeremy Hunt and communities secretary Eric Pickles are due to address the national children and adults services conference in Manchester and outline the details of councils’ plans for the better care fund.  

In a statement David Sparks (Lab), chair of the LGA, said: “Local government has long argued that if these long-awaited reforms are to work and give people the best care possible, they need to be fully funded from the start.

“We have long recognised the importance of the better care fund and the Care Act in bringing together health and social care for our future generations. But we can’t expect these changes to happen overnight, which is why we have called for a bigger better care fund and a transitional fund.”

In July, concerns were raised about the introduction of changes to the better care fund that were designed to protect health funding, and the impact that might have on social care budgets.

Earlier this week, analysis from the LGA and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services showed adult social care services would face a £4.3bn shortfall by the year 2020.

Cllr Sparks said: “It will only be through a determined effort from councils, the health service and government working together that we can end the vicious cycle of over-spending on a broken system.

“Failure to get this right would be catastrophic for an entire generation who rely upon care and the NHS. It will also deprive millions of the popular local services like buses, parks, libraries and leisure centres that help improve quality of life and bind communities together.

“What might look like small pockets of underfunding will continue to add pressure to the £4.3bn shortfall which councils are bracing themselves for in the next five years and it is not too long before this will collapse the whole system.

“Whilst we recognise these reforms have the ability to change health and social care for the better, the government must fund councils properly to ensure this happens.”

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