Voluntary sector sounds alarm over grant shift from social care to health

Social care services could lose out to health under the Department
of Health’s grant distributions to voluntary sector groups this
year, social care organisations have warned.

Learning difficulties charity the Association for Real Change and
20 other groups have written to Sir Nigel Crisp, DoH permanent
secretary, with concerns that the section 64 grant priority areas
for 2006-7 showed a “distinct shift” away from social care towards
health and mental health issues.

The organisations called for priorities to be amended in light of
the adult green paper and priorities added to allow scope for

The section 64 general scheme of grants is designed to strengthen
the partnership between the DoH and voluntary and community

James Churchill, chief executive of the ARC, raised concerns that
organisations lacked a “carte blanche” in the priorities list
unless it was attached to health, mental health or national service
framework activities.

“The critical difference between this year’s list and previous
lists is that if an organisation had any new ideas there was always
scope within the DoH’s requirements, but now that opportunity is
missing,” he said.

He predicted that voluntary sector services for older people,
people with learning difficulties and disabled people could be

Richard Curwen, director of charity Respond, which works with
people with learning difficulties who have been abused, said it
would be difficult for some organisations to “squeeze” their ideas
to fit the DoH’s priorities.

He added: “The list contains too much about physical health, and
specific issues such as heart disease and cancer. While these
undoubtedly affect a large number of people, those with more
complex needs such as a combination of learning difficulties and
mental health problems could lose out.”

While the DoH does not set a sum for individual grants, the total
budget for 2005-6 was around £17m, with an average of
£38,000 a year for an individual grant.

The voluntary sector has also been in discussions over the
formation of consortia between organisations to aid joint bidding
for government contracts.

The National Care Forum is planning to present the proposals to the
new government in the autumn following New Labour’s pre-election
pledge to increase the number of not-for-profit organisations
delivering public services.

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