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Hancock announces £240m social care funding ahead of green paper

The health and social care secretary Matt Hancock is set to announce an emergency £240m fund to be injected into social care to free up beds this winter.

In a speech today at the Conservative Party conference, the secretary of state will say the much-needed money will be spent on prevention and on getting people home swiftly in order to free up beds.

General and acute bed occupancy was at a whopping 94.4% last winter, with an average of 20 trusts having over 99% occupancy – well above the recommended the levels – each day.

The lack of funding for social care has put extreme pressures on hospitals and care services alike. This new fund comes as welcome news after an almost £1bn social care funding gap was identified as far back as 2016.

Part of Hancock’s speech appeared in the national press this morning. He will say: “I want to help the NHS through this winter, too. I have already provided funding for hospitals to make upgrades to their buildings to deal with pressures this winter. And I can announce that today I am making an extra £240m available to pay for social care packages this winter to support our NHS.

“We will use this money to get people who don’t need to be in hospital, but do need care, back home, back into their communities, so we can free up those vital hospital beds.”

Reacting to today’s news, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils successfully used extra social care funding from the government last year to reduce delayed transfer of care days attributable to social care by 37% since July and alleviate some of the pressure on the NHS. This has proved that there cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable social care system.

He added that short-term bailouts are not the answers and that councils and providers “cannot simply turn services on and off as funding ebbs and flows.”

Cllr Hudspeth continued: “Putting in place the right services and workforce requires forward planning and longer term contracts. Adult social care services still face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care.”

Finding a long-term funding solution, he said, is why the LGA drew up its own social care green paper: to drive forward public debate.

“The government must use its own upcoming adult social care green paper to address the fundamental problems facing adult social care and ensure full and sustainable funding so that people will always have access to quality and reliable care and support that helps them live independent, dignified lives.”

Cllr David Williams, County Councils Network spokesman for health and social care and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, echoed the LGA’s concerns over this being a one-off, in-year funding and “short-termism” cannot underpin ongoing resourcing and workforce strategies.

 He continued: “CCN has long argued for a more preventative focus in any health and social care reform, and today’s announcement is a recognition that there needs to be a broader focus than just supporting those in crisis. However, councils need a long-term solution. How we fund social care, as well as how we protect individuals from huge care costs, must be outlined in the forthcoming social care green paper. Above all, if system reform is to be successfully implemented, then councils need to be at the heart of change.”

Top image: Dominic Lipinski PA Wire


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