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Department of Health will not bring forward Better Care funding

The social care sector will not receive funding councils have said is urgently needed to help tackle severe shortfalls, the latest Department of Health guidance has confirmed.

In guidance issued to all directors of adult social services in the country, the department said that councils will receive £138m revenue funding from the Better Care fund in 2016-17.

This falls far short of the £700m the Local Government Association (LGA) has previously said is needed to relieve pressures on social care, which it has warned is “at breaking point”.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, community wellbeing spokesperson for the LGA, said: "We are pleased that the Care Act funding is continuing. Councils have long called for reform but now we need the resources to deliver the changes we need to make to improve the support our elderly and vulnerable population receive.

"However even if councils face a flat-cash settlement over the next four years, there are still significant challenges ahead for councils who will have to make efficiency and other savings sufficient enough to compensate for any additional cost pressures they face. Inevitably adult social care, being the largest single budget within some councils, will have to make its share of these savings.

"These include those arising from general inflation, cost pressures in the care sector, increases in the number of adults and children needing support and rising levels of need, increases in demand for everyday services as the population grows.

"This is why the LGA continues to call for £700 million of the funding earmarked for social care through the Better Care Fund by the end of the decade to be brought forward now, to ease the severe strain on services supporting the elderly and vulnerable."

Of the funding £114.6m is earmarked for carer support under the Care Act 2014, which a recent Public Accounts Committee report found was adding to the pressures on councils.

The remainder will cover costs including independent mental health advocacy, disregarding guaranteed income payments for veterans, and money to offset financial pressures on the care and support system created by changes to the pensions and benefit systems.

In addition, the department committed to £121.1m to cover funding reform from the Care Act, including deferred payments, and £186.6m to meet other duties, including carer assessment and support and adult safeguarding.

It will also provide £32.8m through the local reform and community voices section 31 grant to pay for the increasing cost of deprivation of liberty safeguards in hospitals, local Healthwatch funding, and funding for independent NHS complaints’ advocacy services.

An additional £10.45m will cover social care in prisons.

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