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03.03.16

Cuts making it harder to implement personalised social care budgets – LGA

Implementing personalised social care budgets is becoming a harder challenge for local authorities because of lack of funds, the Local Government Association (LGA) warned today.

Responding to a National Audit Office (NAO) report, which looked into personalised commissioning in adult social care, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the LGA’s community and wellbeing spokesperson, said personal budgets mean that thousands of people across the country have greater control over how to use the money available for their care and health support, which can give them greater choice and help improve their lives.

But she added: “Councils are facing increased funding pressures and are determined to work with individuals and service providers to help people get the support they need.

“Significant savings will still need to be made, which will further impact on the size of personal budgets. The next two years in particular will be especially tough.”

The LGA is calling on the government to help relieve the pressures by bringing forward £700m of funding from the Better Care Fund from the end of the Parliament to 2016-17 in the forthcoming budget.

The NAO report noted that Department of Health (DH) pilots from 2009-12 found that personal care budgets led to improved quality of life for patients and were cost-effective, although they did not lead to improved health. However, the NAO warned that this evidence is now out of date and recommended further research.

Under the Care Act, personal budgets were made mandatory for all eligible users from April 2015. In 2014-15, 500,000 adults in England had social care paid for through local authority personal budgets. And councils invested £6.3bn in long-term community care.

But the NAO stated that the DH, which is extending personal budgets in healthcare, expects the value-for-money of personalised commissioning to come from improved outcomes for users, not necessarily from savings, which differs from local authorities’ expectations that savings can be made by personalising care.

The Auditors have recommended that the DH gain a better understanding of the best ways to implement personalised commissioning.

A recent British Red Cross report found that councils are failing to properly implement the Care Act owing to lack of funding. And The Public Accounts Committee has also warned that the Act is heaping pressures on councils.

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