Latest Public Sector News

30.06.14

Better Care Fund failure would be ‘catastrophic for an entire generation’

Falling budgets and rising demand are opening up a £5.8bn black hole in local authorities’ funding by the end of 2015/16, according to an analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA).

The savings to be made by April 2015 to balance the books amount to 12.5% of council budgets, if services are to be maintained by 2013/14 levels during 2014/15.

The LGA said demand in adult social care is a major cause of the funding problems – accounting for £1.9bn of the gap – making it vital that the new Better Care Fund succeeds.

The Fund, designed to integrate local health and care services using £5.4bn of existing funding drawn from councils and the health service, has been controversial, especially among hospitals.

But the LGA said there is an “urgent need” for the Fund to “quickly succeed in radically improving the way public money is spent on looking after England's elderly…Failure to quickly overhaul services and spending will tip councils, care services and the NHS into financial crisis.”

Protecting spending on elderly care could come at the expense of services like buses, libraries and leisure centres, the LGA added.

Outgoing LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell, who will be replaced by David Sparks at the LGA conference in Bournemouth next week, said: “Council finances are on a knife-edge and the old way of doing things – including the way we care for our elderly population – just won't work anymore.

“Next year will be a make or break moment for adult social care, for local services provided by councils and for the NHS. The introduction of the Better Care Fund next year is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to both improve the quality of life for people in their older years and steer England's social care system away from the road to financial ruin. The stakes have never been higher.

“We all know that we must do better by our elderly population. Too many older people are being let down by a system which leaves them languishing in hospital beds while they wait for an alternative, or consigned to residential care because we lack the capacity to help them live independently.

“The joined-up approach between councils and the health service will provide better support for less money, by cutting out the cost of failure.

“It will only be through a determined effort from councils, the health service and government working together that we can end the vicious cycle of over-spending on a broken system. Failure to get this right would be catastrophic for an entire generation who rely upon care and the NHS. It will also deprive millions of the popular local services like buses, parks, libraries and leisure centres that help improve quality of life and bind communities together.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

Brian J. Cowie   04/07/2014 at 15:23

How much further can Councils and NHS cut back on physical and social care before we are literally stepping over the bodies of neglected clients in the street? A small charity searching and begging for funding now has to enter an arena of wolves, just to glean a few pounds to help save a life, whilst so many other lives are lost due to the lack of adequate funding to provide life saving services.

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