London boroughs make cash bid to avoid care cuts and rises in charges

London’s social care users face higher service thresholds and more charges unless councils gain more funding in the comprehensive spending review.

That was the message from a report commissioned by London Councils, the representative body for the 32 boroughs, which also claimed that tensions with primary care trusts would increase without extra investment. It predicted adult social care costs would rise to £3bn in the capital by 2010, 30 per cent above the 2005-6 figure.

This was against a background of average social services deficits of 5.7 per cent and an average unit cost for services 18 per cent above the rest of the country, it added.

The £3bn figure also takes into account predicted efficiency savings and the report said the situation may worsen if primary care trusts were allowed to shunt further healthcare costs on to local authorities.

London PCTs spend about £125m on NHS-funded continuing care and £145m on jointly funded care but the NHS deficit for 2006-7 has been forecast at £125m.

The predicted rise in costs is primarily explained by increasing demand, particularly from a growing population of older people.

However, social care’s prospects for the CSR are not good, with the government promising a rise of just 1.9 per cent in real terms from 2008-11 with education gaining 2.5 per cent.

In London, the relationship between Brent Council and Brent Teaching Primary Care Trust has broken down over cost-shunting, while Lambeth and Redbridge were earlier this year consulting on plans to tighten their eligibility criteria.

London Councils executive member for health and adult services Stephen Carr said: “It is vital the government takes note of the funding problems faced by the capital’s local authorities and ensures Londoners get a fair deal from this year’s comprehensive spending review.”

Supporting People doubts
The funding situation in London may worsen still further, the report said, depending on the government’s decision over the future of the Supporting People programme. Supporting People funding allows people to receive support to help them remain in their own home but funding in the capital fell from £370m in 2004-5 to £353m in 2005-6. A strategy on the future of the programme is expected to be published by the government later this year.

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 Simeon Brody


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