Councils seek health precept to meet care demands

The District Councils’ Network has urged the government to allow district councils to introduce a new two per cent prevention precept on council tax to maintain and invest further in prevention services.

The group argues that services such as improved housing, leisure and recreational facilities, debt advice, tackling homelessness initiatives, support for troubled families and improving air quality can help reduce demand on social care and health services.

A two per cent prevention precept would give district councils additional resources to address health and well-being issues in their communities before people require more formalised acute based intervention.

The District Councils’ Network claims that councils can make up to £70 worth of savings on health spending for every £1 spent on prevention. For example, adapting 100,000 homes to meet the needs of older people could help districts save the NHS £69 for every pound spent. Additionally, investing in sport, leisure and recreation could generate £11.2 billion a year in savings, £1.7 billion of which is thought to be via savings to health care-associated costs.

John Fuller, chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said: “It is time the government recognised the important role district councils play in prevention and early intervention. We know that for everyone £1 spent, district councils can save the NHS up to £70, just by adapting homes to prevent falls, improving home insulation and heating or providing recreational and leisure services.

“A two per cent prevention precept would go some way to reducing pressures on the social care system, by solving rather than managing problems, and allowing resources to be refocused on tackling problems one family at a time before they occur. Prevention is always better than cure. If we are to reduce pressures on the NHS and stop people from entering the social care system unnecessarily, districts council must be given the resources to invest in prevention.”

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