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Cuts preventing councils from implementing Care Act – British Red Cross

Prevention services under the Care Act 2014 are not being adequately implemented by local authorities, a new British Red Cross report has warned.

The charity assessed all 151 Health and Wellbeing Boards’ strategies and judged that 56 did not have a strong understanding of prevention, with only 12 using the triple ‘prevent, reduce and delay’ definition of prevention.

It also submitted FoI requests to all local authorities to ask how they are planning on implementing the Act, which places a new duty on councils to ensure the provision of services that prevent, reduce or delay the need for care and support.

However, the FOI results showed too many councils relied on providing information and advice online to fulfil the Act’s requirements despite the fact that many older care users do not use the Internet. Where they did say they were providing new services, these included services such as telecare and handyperson support that have been available for a number of years.

Chloe Carter, policy and advocacy manager at the British Red Cross, said: “Local authorities must continue to look for ways to invest in new and innovative preventative interventions but they can’t do this alone.

“At a time when budgets are tight, we urge government to look again at how to best enable local authorities to implement the Care Act’s new duties in a meaningful way. It is only through such investment that we can hope to increase and improve the provision of prevention services in England.”

The Public Accounts Committee has already warned that the Care Act is placing an increasing burden on councils. Yesterday, the Local Government Association (LGA) also warned that council social services are “at breaking point” because of lack of funding and increased costs.

The Red Cross recommended that local authorities commit to shifting a portion of their resources towards prevention, and that devolved areas seize the opportunity to more closely integrate the work of different bodies and departments, including health care and social care.

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) think tank, said: “We need the government to seriously commit to giving councils the tools needed to deliver on prevention and the financial structures to benefit from it.”

The LGiU’s State of Local Government Finance survey found that 89% of local authorities say they will have to increase charges for frontline services and nearly 40% say the impact of cuts will be visible to the public.


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