Campaigners bid to save care grants from axe

Campaigners are bidding to save adult social care grants from the chop to protect vulnerable clients, amid widespread expectations that ministers will axe them, as predicted by Adass president Richard Jones (pictured) in the summer.

Campaigners are bidding to save adult social care grants from the chop to protect vulnerable clients, amid widespread expectations that ministers will axe them.

Organisations including the National Housing Federation and the National Aids Trust will meet officials and ministers over the next few weeks to make the case for retention of specific grants before the government publishes its spending review on 20 October.

They have warned that, without specific grants, groups such as people with HIV/Aids, who receive social care funding through the £25.5m Aids support grant, will suffer.

There is a widespread belief that ministers will scrap specific grants and pool funding into councils’ general formula grant.

Richard Harbord, chairman of the social care panel of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, warned: “There’s a general feeling that most adult social care grants are at risk. I think things like the Aids grant are thought to be doomed and that generally there’s no rationale for separating out these grants from all the others put in the pool.”

Richard Jones, the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, told Community Care in July: “It’s highly unlikely that there will be specific grants from 2011.”

Other grants under threat include the £15m stroke strategy grant and the £256m carers grant.

The government has already announced it was ending the ring-fencing of many adult social care grants, including Aids support, as part of plans to cut the budget deficit.

The National Aids Trust said it understood the need to provide flexibility to councils at a time of financial pressures but warned that, without a named grant, the client group would be overlooked at local level.

Laura Dunkeyson, policy and parliamentary officer, said: “If necessary social care is not available for those who need it there is serious risk of treatment failures, hospitalisation, more expensive drugs, and of onward transmission to others as the person becomes more infectious and quite possibly less able to manage safer sex.”

There are also concerns for the Supporting People programme, which funds housing support for groups including learning disabled people, domestic violence survivors and people who misuse substances. Though no longer a named grant, the government allocates a specific sum for it – £1.64bn this year – through the broader area-based grant. Jones has said that he expects the area-based grant to be scrapped.

Cuts to Supporting People would make people less independent and more reliant on acute health and other services, increasing costs to the taxpayer, said Jake Eliot, policy officer for the National Housing Federation.

Nicki Youern, chief executive of Supporting People provider YOU, said there were already examples of councils making cuts to contracts with providers because of worries about October’s spending review.

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