Deadline to protect social care funds looms
Published on 08 March 2013 11:30 AM
Officials from the Department of Health (DH) have met with senior local government figures to discuss funding expectations for the upcoming 2015-16 spending round.
Councils are eager to persuade Whitehall to spare social care from funding cuts, although they only have less than two months to do so.
DH officials, who are expected to make a formal submission about their funding expectations to the Treasury by the end of April, have urged council representatives to pinpoint where they could bear savings.
In a meeting to mark the start of negotiations, the department highlighted a number of areas in which they considered the Treasury may want to see efficiencies made. These include initiatives that integrate social care and NHS services; curbs to care provider fees; and increasing charges for care users.
In addition, officials earmarked greater use of reablement services that offer intensive support to older people to prevent them moving into expensive care homes.
One source close to the talks said the department will consider any evidence submitted by local government when putting this case together.
It is believed that senior council figures will argue for councils' care budgets to be effectively frozen in 2015-16 because they believe an increase is not on the cards.
Cuts are adding pressure to an already overstretched care system
'Local authorities are struggling to cope as budget cuts add huge pressures on a care system that is already overstretched,' said Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK.
'Social care is not some nice-to-have luxury and there are already nearly 830,000 older people who need care but receive no formal support, meaning many of the most vulnerable in our society are having their dignity and safety compromised on a daily basis.
'Good care makes good moral and economic sense. If older people get good quality care at home it helps them remain independent for much longer, helps keep them out of hospital and protects families from the pressures of caring and that is why we need to protect social care budgets at all costs.
'The social care system must provide a sustainable and fair source of funding to ensure that older people are given the care that they desperately need, both now and in the future.'
Copyright Press Association 2013