The government will tell primary care trusts how they should spend £1bn in funding on social care to prevent it disappearing into NHS budgets, health secretary Andrew Lansley will tell social care leaders tomorrow.
In an exclusive interview with Community Care, care services minister Paul Burstow said PCTs would be told how much money they should be spending on adult social care and how it should be spent. He revealed that Lansley would reveal the details tomorrow, in his speech to the National Children and Adult Services Conference.
The funding, which will total £0.8bn next year and rise to a £1bn a year after that, was announced in last month’s comprehensive spending review and is designed to fund reablement care and other social care services that reduce burdens on the NHS.
However, there have been concerns that the money would not be spent as desired, as has happened previously with NHS funding allocated for dementia, carers’ short breaks, end-of-life care and disabled children.
“What we will be doing is making very clear in the NHS operating framework how this money is to go to social care and the way in which it incentivises NHS and social care collaboration,” said Burstow. The NHS operating framework is an annual Department of Health document setting out key priorities for the health service.
“It will also be very clear about the sums of money. This is not just putting money into PCT baselines with a hope and a prayer that it will go to social care.”
Burstow also responded to claims made at the conference by Labour’s shadow health secretary, John Healey, that the government had “double counted” the extra £1bn for adult social care. This is a reference to the fact that, had it not been given to the NHS, the health service would not have received a real terms increase in funding from 2011-15, a key coalition policy.
“I think John Healey was talking double dutch when he was talking about double counting when what we are actually getting is a double benefit,” Burstow said. “He showed with that comment that he’s still very early in the brief.”