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LGA calls for five-year commitment on social care funding

Councils could spend up to 40% of their overall budgets on care for older and vulnerable people by 2020, as demand for these services increases across the country, according to analysis from the Local Government Association (LGA).

But in order to deal with this growing demand, the body, which represents 415 local authorities, has called for a five-year commitment to transform health and social care funding to avoid the care system “spiralling into a deeper crisis”.

The LGA stated that local areas have already pooled £5.4bn in local Better Care Fund plans, which will integrate health and social care money, for 2015-16.  Coming into effect in April 2015, the plans are being currently being agreed and finalised by local authorities and health partners.

However, the LGA has stated that a “lack of clarity” about the future of health and social care funding could risk the early efforts to integrate services. It is, therefore, urging the government to commit to a joint fund until 2020 that will allow councils and health partners to continue working closely together to provide the best services for residents in the longer-term.

Outgoing LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said: “It is indisputable that in order to improve the lives of older and vulnerable people in this country there is a need for significant changes to the way that social care is funded. 

“A five year commitment to join up funding between health and social care would provide the certainty and stability required to transform care services for the people who need and rely on them.”

But, in a joint statement, the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government stated that no area of public spending had been given a spending settlement beyond 2015-16.

A spokeswoman said: “We welcome the LGA’s commitment to joint working. We have already been clear that pooled budgets are likely to be an enduring part of the health and care system, with ministers on the record saying that areas should plan on the basis that this is more than a one-year programme.

“Decisions on future funding will be made at the next spending review in the normal way, but in the meantime, the Better Care Fund is already kickstarting the process of joining up health and social care across the country and areas have a big job to do in making this work from next April.”

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