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Councils to keep 2015-16 Care Act cash

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Local authorities will be able to keep the £146m earmarked to fund preparations for phase two of the Care Act, despite the reforms having been delayed, MPs have heard.

Department of Health director general of social care Jon Rouse told a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee on Monday that the department would not be seeking the return of the money. He said minsters would be making a statement “within the next few days about how that money is made available to local authorities, in terms of social care”.

The £146m had been intended to allow councils to pay for the new requirement to assess individuals who self-fund their care ahead of the planned introduction of a cap on care costs from April 2016. However, in July it was announced this had been postponed

Addressing the committee, Mr Rouse said: “Our expectation is that local government will have spent a small amount of that, in terms of very early preparations, before the announcement of postponement was made.

“Our intention is that the remainder of that money should be made available to local authorities in respect of the social care system this year.”

However, he said as the money would no longer be needed for self-funder assessments there would need to be a different formula to distribute the cash.

He added: “Ministers will be making a statement to explain how that will work very shortly. “

Colin Noble (Con), County Councils Network spokesman for health and social care, said: “We welcome the announcement that local authorities will retain the £146m paid out this year by government to prepare for Care Act funding reforms, something CCN has been calling for since the delay to part 2 of the Care Act was announced.  

“However, this funding is only a drop in the ocean when in the context of the social care funding crisis.

Cllr Noble, who is also leader of Suffolk CC, added: “With CCN member councils facing a funding shortfall in the region of £959m for 2015-16, government must take action in the spending review and commit to investing the entirety of the £6bn earmarked for Care Act implementation back into the social care system.”

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