Behind the headlines

Our regular panel comments on a topic in the news.

Coming only a week after the chancellor’s comprehensive spending
review announcement, health secretary Alan Milburn’s statement
setting out how new resources for social care will be spent
appeared to prove the government’s determination to right the
wrongs of years of under-investment. Whereas the spending review
focused on children and young people, Milburn elaborated on the 6
per cent annual increase in social services spending promised in
the April budget. The lion’s share will be allocated to older

If the first announcement was designed to further the
government’s aim of improving children’s prospects in education and
employment, the second was about investing in the care of older
people outside hospital and ending the bed-blocking crisis.
Mandatory direct payments, more money for care home fees, and more
money for carers are the main planks of the government’s policy,
accompanied by tough new timetables for assessment, provision of
equipment and supply of services.

Julia Ross, executive director for health and social
care, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
“Primary and social care missed out completely on the
extra capacity money which went directly into acute services, so
this is a welcome addition to increasing what we can do locally. I
just hope the administration of it will be simple. I think it’s a
useful way of extending local capacity where we need it most and of
beginning to let the money follow the user, which I suspect could
open the door up for different funding streams in future.”

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and

“Competition for scarce resources from advocates for different user
groups is unhelpful. I wish the government would resist repeated
announcements about the same new money and instead give a
straightforward account of how money is the be allocated when the
first announcement is made. This would avoid the unhelpful
speculation we have seen recently. Heads of children’s services
must now be wondering how they are ever going to meet the
challenges ahead. Sadly we cannot help but reflect that children do
not have votes.”

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and Care for the

“I welcome the government’s announcement of more cash for older
people’s services, which is desperately needed. I was particularly
pleased to see the announcements on direct payments and more money
for residential care. If this strategy is going to work
effectively, there needs to be money put into advocacy and
information services, so that older people are supported and can
make informed choices about their care.”

Karen Warwick, senior practitioner,

“Making such a commitment to older people pleases me but I am
concerned that there is a view that few people will take up the
offer of direct payments. This suggests to me that there has been a
lack of consultation with older people. I welcome the additional
funding for staff training. I worked as a care worker with older
people when I was training and there were staff who were lacking in
motivation and commitment as they felt under-valued and underpaid.
Staff need to feel valued and training assists in this.”

Bill Badham, programme manager, Children’s

“I’m just back from cycling a stage of the Tour de France. Perhaps
the Alpine air has just gone to my head or is the health
secretary’s announcement as good as it seems? More choice and
independence for older people, with less delay and improved
services. And all funded properly through the standard spending
assessment. Sounds to me like values and money. Chapeau!”

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