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London Councils calls for ‘sustainable’ adult social care funding

Local authorities need long-term investment in health and social care integration to free-up hospital beds and address the crisis in A&E departments, London Councils has said.

The warning comes as the government announced, nationally, that local authorities would receive £37m to help combat the rise in demand for home care packages over winter.

But London Councils warns that boroughs are facing a funding shortfall of £1.14bn for adult social care by 2019-20 and that “sustainable” funding, rather than a one-off payment, is needed.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill, executive member for health at London Councils, which represents all 32 London boroughs and the City of London, said: “Since the start of the decade, the proportion of people who cannot leave hospital because of social care blockages has decreased. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain social care services at their current level, and this will have a knock-on effect on other parts of the system.

“While we welcome the government’s recent announcement to provide additional funding, there must be longer term investment in health and social care to ensure that vulnerable people get the care and support they need.”

It was noted that in Newham, initiatives run in partnership with the borough, voluntary sector and Barts Health NHS Trust, have resulted in a reduction in the number of people unable to leave Newham University Hospital because their social care support is not in place this year, compared to last year.

The initiative includes a ‘Home and Settle’ programme, in which the adult social care team works with Age UK volunteers to help people settle back at home following a hospital stay, by ensuring they have basics like bread, milk and heating.

“These schemes are succeeding at a time when London councils face unprecedented funding pressures and rising demand from an aging population,” added Cllr O’Neill.

The funding call comes at the same time as the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) revealed that in-between September 2013-14 the number of jobs in adult social services in England fell by 10,600 or 8%. This was down from 140,700 posts in 2013 to 130,100 last year.

Of the 152 English councils responsible for adult social services, it was revealed that 101 reduced the number of adult social services jobs between 2013 and 2014, another 46 saw an increase, and the remaining five reported no change.

But of the 101 councils that saw a decrease in their jobs, 25 saw a change of less than 5% and did not provide a reason. Of the 76 councils that did provide reasons the top three most commonly cited reasons were: restructures, outsourcing and redundancies.

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