Councils urged to pool funding to support vulnerable people

Councils are being urged to pool funding from social services
and primary care trusts with Supporting People money to ensure
vulnerable people with care needs can access vital services,
writes Shirley Kumar.

Stressing that Supporting People was not the only route to
independent living, Matrix managing consultant Chris O’Leary
urged councils to look at the vulnerable people’s
“individual needs”.

“Think of the package of care and support,” he
urged. “The higher the care needs, the more social services
and PCTs need to contribute. The lower the need, Supporting People
should pay as a preventive measure.”

Speaking at the annual Supporting People Advisory Network in
Harrogate, O’Leary argued that the £1.72 billion
allocated for 2005/06 was a good deal, but would not sustain the
costs of ineligible activity. Matrix’s review of the
Supporting People programme published in May 2004 found that, on
April 1 2003, ineligible activity accounted for 4 per cent of the
overall budget.

However O’Leary acknowledged that breaking the barriers
down between commissioners was the biggest challenge.

His views were echoed by independent consultant Yvonne Maxwell
who pointed out that Supporting People was “not a priority
for PCTs”.

“PCTs look for the quickest option and they don’t always
understand what Supporting People offers. If it is not portrayed in
clinical or medical outcomes they don’t want to

She urged Supporting People teams to sell the programme to PCTs
and keep banging on their doors. Councils should also flag up the
problems with health and Supporting People partnerships to the
Department of Health, so solutions could be fed into its emerging
vision for adult services.

The National Housing Federation, meanwhile, has urged the
government to say how it intends to distribute the funds it has
allocated to the Supporting People from April 2005.

Despite announcing the overall pot of money earlier this month,
the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has delayed announcing
individual allocations to local authorities until it completes work
on the new Supporting People distribution formula.

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