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CCN urges Hunt to drop ‘undeliverable’ social care targets

Counties have urged the government to drop plans to take vital social care funding away from authorities that fail to deliver “undeliverable” delayed transfer of care (DTOC) targets.

The County Councils Network (CCN) revealed that it has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt asking him to drop the proposals, which will withdraw money made available for social care in the Spring Budget from councils that do not make sufficient improvements.

Under guidance passed last week, county authorities will have to reduce discharges from hospital on average by 43% within the next few months – double the target of London areas.

In some areas, such as Herefordshire, county leaders are expected to make a 69% reduction to DTOCs, whilst Suffolk must meet a huge goal of 67%.

These targets have been described as “arbitrary” and “undeliverable” by the CCN, who said the situation has been further exacerbated by the pressure rural councils face in delivering social care.

Pressures include counties having the largest and fastest growing elderly populations, yet being the lowest funded authorities when it comes to social care services – meaning that in total, county authorities receive £2bn less than other parts of the country.

The CCN also argued that this policy could even mean councils that have little chance of hitting the target set for this winter may have no choice but to reduce care packages – for fear of slices of funding being taken away from them in 2018-19.

“There was a clear rationale to the government making £2bn available for social care – it was nationally accepted services were at breaking point and the government rightly listened,” said Cllr Colin Noble, CCN’s health & social care spokesman and leader of Suffolk County Council.  

“However, these targets are a backwards step. It is perverse that this money – designed to ease pressures – could be taken away if we cannot hit virtually undeliverable and arbitrary targets within a very short time period.”

Cllr Noble added that counties are proportionately the lowest funded councils for social care. They therefore need a sustainable solution rather than this double whammy of underfunding alongside the prospect of money being withdrawn.

“We are confident we can put together a compelling care for an urgent re-think on this by the government,” he concluded. “If not, the elderly, vulnerable, and disabled people this money was supposed to support will be the ones who suffer.”

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