LGA calls for ‘full flexibility’ on social care funding

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for ‘full flexibility’ in how they use the £2 billion in new social care funding announced in the Budget, ahead of guidance due to be published by government on how it should be spent.

The LGA also warned that while the money will make a significant contribution to protecting services that care for older and disabled people, particularly in 2017/18, it is not enough to address the wider pressures across the sector, nor is it planned to continue after 2019/20.

The LGA maintained that councils are best placed to understand the needs of their communities and should remain free to determine which social care services should be targeted.

It cited that with hospitals accounting for one in five of social care referrals, other areas of social care are also under great pressure and in need of adequate funding. These include services that support people with physical and learning disabilities, and people with mental health conditions.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "Councils know where the pressures are in their local areas better than anyone else. It is also essential that there are no delays in releasing the money so that councils can provide extra care and maintain the services that would otherwise have been cut.

"Reducing pressures on our hospitals is important, but we must also remember that social care is about much more than just freeing up hospital bed space. It is about providing care and support for people to enable them to live more independent, fulfilled lives, not just older people, but those with mental health conditions, learning and physical disabilities.

"The funding announced in the Budget is just a starting point. It is critical that the government's Green Paper on social care includes local government leaders playing a central role in finding a long-term solution that reforms and fully funds our care system.

"This is essential if we are to do more than just help people out of bed and get washed and dressed but ensures people can live independent, fulfilling lives in the community, and relieve pressures on care providers and avoid widespread failure amongst organisations providing care.”

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