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14.10.15

Social care and public health need £1bn lift in Spending Review – LGA

The LGA is calling on the government and the NHS to rethink their approach towards prevention and invest £1bn in preventative adult social care and public health – especially in light of figures that show only 5% of the entire healthcare budget is spent on prevention schemes.

Ahead of the upcoming Spending Review, the LGA urged Whitehall to recognise the value of investing in prevention rather than remedying problems with “costlier and more acute” treatments.

Councils voiced concerns over planned £200m cuts to public health budgets – as they already had before – but now built upon LGA analysis that outlined the wider cost benefits of 11 prevention programmes across the country.

The LGA argued that slashing the public health budget could keep several similar schemes from becoming a reality, instead requiring treatment programmes that already drain the public purse of billions (£14bn for diabetes and £7bn for obesity, for example).

Its analysis found that programmes keeping those aged between 40 and 65 active could save more than £3 for every £1 spent, and that telehealth care could bring back £2.70 of every £1 invested.

More significantly, it called on a £1bn ‘transformation fund’ to be spent on prevention programmes – including supporting unemployed people, reducing physical inactivity and tackling depression – as a way to  save cash with knock-on benefits of more than £7bn over a five-year period.

The call comes ahead of the National Children and Adult Services Conference today (14 October) that will see politicians and councillors countrywide discussing the need for a prevention fund.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, LGA community wellbeing spokesperson, said: “As councils up and down the country already struggle to cope with rising demand, an unhealthy population will only exacerbate the situation in future years – putting a bigger strain on services which are already at breaking point.

“The Spending Review provides the ideal opportunity for government to commit to investing in a long-term strategy which invests in ways of keeping people healthier – improving lies and saving money for the public purse in the long term.

“Continuously pumping money into the health system simply will not address the longer term problems in our health and social care system. We need a radical overhaul of the way in which we keep people healthy so we can look after people now and in the future.

“If this is not addressed now, not only could we put our future generation’s health in jeopardy, but we risk creating a health and care system which simply buckles under the strain of an unhealthy nation.”

Councils have previously warned that insufficient funding and growing demand would team up to widen the adult social care cash gap by more than £700m per year – estimated to reach almost £3bn by the end of the decade, even before the national living wage is fully implemented.

Although the government has previously pledged to inject £8bn into the NHS, no additional funding was committed for social care services.

Last week, the LGA also called on the government to plug this social care gap with the money earmarked for the delayed Care Act, as well as through spending reductions in other departments.

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