Councils face having social care money withdrawn

Under new guidance produced by the Department of Health, county authorities could face having social care funding withdrawn, unless ‘undeliverable’ delayed transfers of care targets are met.

The County Councils Network (CCN), representing all of England’s county councils and 10 county unitaries, has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt requesting that he urgently reconsider the proposals.

Despite having the largest and fastest growing elderly populations, county councils are the lowest funded councils for social care services and now will have to reduce delayed discharges from hospitals by an average by 43 per cent within the next few months. Among the targets, the CCN claims that Herefordshire has an ‘undeliverable’ and ‘arbitrary’ target of a 69 per cent reduction, whilst Suffolk has a target of 67 per cent.

The network is also calling for much-need investment into the health and social care system, although this will only work if funding discrepancies between rural and urban councils are resolved ‘in tandem with a long-term sustainable funding settlement for all councils’.

Colin Noble, CCN Health & Social Care spokesman, said: “There was a clear rationale to the government making £2 billion available for social care – it was nationally accepted services were at breaking point and the government rightly listened. However, these targets are a backwards step. It is perverse that this money – designed to ease pressures – could be taken away if we cannot hit virtually undeliverable and arbitrary targets within a very short time period.

“Counties are the lowest funded councils for social care – they need a sustainable solution, not this double whammy of underfunding and the prospect of funds being withdrawn. We are confident we can put together a compelling care for an urgent re-think on this by the government. If not, the elderly, vulnerable, and disabled people this money was supposed to support will be the ones who suffer.”

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