The Learning and Skills Council is to press ahead with a proposal to stop funding health and care provision for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
The proposal, previously leaked to Community Care, is put forward in the LSC’s review of provision published this week.
The review predicts that millions of pounds could be “freed up” to provide more resources for learning if the care costs were met by other agencies including social services, health and local authorities.
Money was contributed by other agencies in only 229 cases out of 3,181 learners funded by the LSC at specialist colleges for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities in 2003-4, according to the review. Agencies gave approximately £3.2m compared with the LSC’s estimated overall spend of £126m.
Peter Little, chair of the review, said: “We don’t want to see a large amount of LSC resources going to pay for parts of provision which are not related to learning.”
Little said changes to funding arrangements were needed in the light of legislation including the Children Act 2004 and the Valuing People white paper.
He denied the proposal was linked to cost-cutting measures at the LSC following the body’s decision to cut 1,300 jobs as part of a £40m savings programme announced in September.
The Association of Directors of Social Services predicted the move would put additional pressure on already overstretched council budgets.
An ADSS report published last month found that learning difficulties accounted for the highest spending pressure in adult services, and estimated councils would have to spend an extra £800m a year within the next five years if the government did not increase funding.
Margaret Goldie, the ADSS lead on learning difficulties, also voiced concerns that many people with learning difficulties or disabilities accessing LSC-funded courses would not qualify for social care funding.
“There are people who do not meet councils’ eligibility thresholds, and they may not be eligible for health funding either,” she said.
The LSC’s review is open to consultation until 31 January 2006. See: www.lsc.gov.uk