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22.10.15

Social care must be safe from cuts and receive earmarked Dilnot cash – think tank

The government must use the Spending Review to protect social care from further budget cuts and reinvest the £6bn earmarked to implement the delayed Dilnot reforms, the King’s Fund has said today (22 October).

The think tank’s latest quarterly monitoring report found that harsh cuts to local authority social care budgets were adversely affecting health services – with nearly one-third of NHS discharge delays in August being owed to problems accessing social care services.

This represents an increase of 21% from the past year.

John Appleby, the King’s Fund’s chief economist, said the report confirmed the financial crisis currently engulfing the NHS and social care, especially as winter is fast approaching.

“There is now clear evidence that cuts to social care budgets are affecting the NHS, as well as reducing services for people that need them.

“The government must use the Spending Review to protect the social care system from further cuts and reinvent the £6bn previously earmarked to implement the Dilnot reforms,” he added.

Heidi Alexander MP, shadow health secretary, agreed that the findings laid bare the crisis in both sectors, cautioning that hospitals are now dangerously full as a result.

“Ministers have been warned on numerous occasions that cuts to older people’s care in the home will have a knock-on effect on the NHS.

“As support is withdrawn in the home, too many older people are ending up in hospital unnecessarily,” she said.

Similarly, the LGA and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) called on Whitehall earlier this month to use cash earmarked for the delayed Care Act, combined with spending reductions in other departments, to plug the funding gap in social care.

These recommendations follow a series of reports indicating that the social care sector may have reached a breaking point as more than half of people who ask for help from their councils receive either no help at all or are just given information about charities or similar groups instead.

And for the first year in living memory, more care home beds have ‘closed’ than ‘opened’, suggesting that investment in the sector has largely dried up.

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