Department of Health aims for real terms increase for adult social care

The Department of Health is gunning for a real-terms increase in adult social care funding in this year’s comprehensive spending review.

The admission, contained in the department’s business plan for 2007-8, is its most specific statement of its negotiating position in discussions with the Treasury over spending limits for 2008-11, which will be announced in October.

It came as care services minister Ivan Lewis called for a transfer of resources from acute NHS provision to social care, and for GP commissioning of social care to become “mainstream”, in effect endorsing widespread health spending on the sector.

Lewis made the calls in an article for Labour ­think-tank Progress, in which he said the next prime minister, who he hopes will be Gordon Brown, should make adult social care a priority.

The DH’s commitment to a real-terms increase comes amid concerns that local government will face a funding freeze for 2008-11 to accommodate increases for other areas of spending.

In last month’s budget, Brown said education would receive a 2.5 per cent rise – above the 1.9 per cent real-terms increase for Whitehall – while health is predicted to gain about 3 per cent.

The business plan also revealed the DH would seek to take a stronger leadership role in social care this year through its social care directorate, headed by David Behan.

It will appoint a director of professional leadership and performance to “drive forward improved performance with social care regulators within wider system reform”, and will develop a strategy for social care from 2008.

The plan also said the DH was drawing up a Health and Social Care Bill, which would extend direct payments, including to people who either cannot consent to or manage a payment, even with support.

Extension of direct payments
The 2005 adult green paper said direct payments could be extended to people who lacked capacity through councils nominating an agent to manage the payment on their behalf. They would be vetted and bound by the terms of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, so they would have to allow the service user to make as many decisions as possible and act in their best interests.

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  Mithran Samuel




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