Communities secretary Sajid Javid has hinted the government is considering further action on resources for social care.
Addressing the District Councils Network conference today, Mr Javid also said devolution remains “very much live” and said his focus had now shifted from finalising mayoral devolution deals to other proposals across the country.
He also confirmed that the housing white paper will be published next week. Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell has hinted councils could be given greater borrowing capacity to build homes, and powers to force developers to complete schemes that have planning permission.
When questioned on funding for social care, the communities secretary hinted the government was close to announcing further measures to address pressures on resources, following the introduction of more flexibility over the social care precept and redirecting £241m new homes bonus funding in 2017-18.
Mr Javid said: “Of the big issues, number one is making sure there is enough resources and I recognise that is still a challenge - that’s one of the reasons we had some of the changes announced last month.
“I said at the time they were very much short term measures and I recognise more needs to be done and that is something that is being looked at.”
Mr Javid added that improving integration between health and social care was vital to address funding pressures and improving care services.
Yesterday chair of the Local Government Association Lord Porter (Con) said devolution was “dead”. He thought the government would not consider any new bids before the next election because local government had thrown devolution in two tier areas “back in their face”.
But Mr Javid said he remained open to both devolution and reorganisation proposals that delivered savings and efficiency.
He said: “I want you to be assured that both the combined authority agenda and devolution agenda are still very much live and taken very seriously
“Our focus since the summer was on getting the directly elected mayoral deals done because we wanted to see those elections take place in May this year and there was a certain time pressure on them but now I want to make sure those other bids that are out there, either for combined authorites or devolution or both, are dealt with and worked on as quickly as we can.”
When questioned on whether he would intervene in areas where there are disputes over reorganisation, Mr Javid said he was not planning a “big government-led process”.
He added: “My strategy is when counties or districts approach central government about something they think would make better sense locally because it leads to better services or much better value for money for taxpayers then I will look at it seriously. But my approach is that it has to be bottom up - it is not something I want to set out and impose on local people.”