Health secretary Matt Hancock is to confirm a funding injection for adult social care at the Conservative party conference later today.
LGC last week reported a growing expectation among senior local government figures that emergency funding would be made available imminently due to concerns over a seasonal rise in demand over the winter months.
Mr Hancock, who is due to make a speech in Birmingham this afternoon, will pledge £240m to bolster services which are still struggling following a rise in emergency admissions to hospital during the summer heatwave.
He is expected to say the money is intended to prevent unnecessary emergency admissions and enable patients to leave hospitals when medically fit, while councils will also be able to invest in adaptations to people’s homes, according to a reported draft of Mr Hancock’s speech.
The Department of Health & Social care earlier this month announced NHS acute trusts will receive £145m to prepare for increased winter pressures.
Mr Hancock will say: “I have already provided funding for hospitals to make upgrades to their buildings to deal with pressures this winter. And I can announce that today I am making an extra £240m available to pay for social care packages.”
Half of the £2bn extra funding for social care announced last year was allocated in 2017-18, with a requirement that it was spent on relieving pressure on hospitals. The government injected a further £150m for 2017-18 in February. Councils were also given the flexibility to raise council tax through a social care precept by 6% in the three years up to 2019-20.
The government has promised to publish a green paper on the long-term sustainability of the adult social care system this autumn.
The Local Government Association, which recently published its own proposals for reform and has warned that social care is at breaking point, welcomed the cash injection but warned short-term funding is not the solution.
David Williams (Con), County Councils Network spokesman for health and social care, welcomed the “desperately needed resource” but said counties have had to save £700m this year.
“This one-off, in-year funding cannot underpin ongoing resourcing and workforce strategies and perpetuates a trend of short-termism we have seen from successive governments when it comes to adult social care,” Cllr Williams said.
“With the 36 county authorities in the CCN membership facing a funding black hole of £1.4bn next year, further injection of funding for all services will be required for the next financial year in excess of what councils will receive from today’s announcement.”
George McNamara, director of policy at Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said: “The social care budget has been cut by the equivalent of over £2m a day since 2010, so this announcement simply rolls back cuts over the past four months.
“This announcement is a headline-grabbing gesture, but in reality it is woefully inadequate to address the long-term funding crisis in social care.”
While Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, described the funding as “welcome”, he added: “This funding can only be a temporary and partial ‘fix’ - we need to go much further, much faster, if we are to truly support people in the community.”