West Midlands urges for winter fund release

West Midlands council leaders have urged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to release funds for essential social care services ahead of winter.

Local authorities are increasingly concerned about the Better Care Fund arrangements, which enables NHS England to share funding among councils to avoid service cuts to the most vulnerable people in their communities. With warnings arriving of a tough winter for the NHS, the authorities have written to Hunt, asking him to to consider how councils face catastrophic cuts to the support of vulnerable people, especially through social care, if the funding continues to be withheld after October.

Paulette Hamilton, cabinet member for Health and Social Care at Birmingham City Council, said: “It is a shocking and intolerable situation that councils are being left without funding for essential services for our older and vulnerable residents. The public should know that we are now six months into the year and have still not received this core funding. Nor are we sure we will receive it at all.

“This funding is for services to help people get home from hospital safely, as well as essential residential and nursing care for the most vulnerable. Everybody knows how important these services are, because everyone knows someone vulnerable who relies on care from others. Councils across the West Midlands have written to Jeremy Hunt to ensure these shocking holdups to the funding are resolved. We know he wants health and social care to work closely together to prepare for winter, so we can only assume he is not aware of the actions of NHS England.

“Our request to Jeremy Hunt is a very simple one. We urgently need the funding promised to local councils to be confirmed and provided straight away. Next year, we need to receive it at the start of the year in the same way as for any other service.”

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