Councils will get their hands on the majority of £1bn in annual NHS funding for social care over the next four years, and will be able to use it to help prop up existing care services, health secretary Andrew Lansley has said.
Lansley told the National Children and Adult Services Conference that the government would specify funding allocations for primary care trusts next month and instruct them to hand these over to councils to spend on adult social care, in accordance with plans agreed between authorities and PCTs.
This addresses concerns that the money – announced in last month’s comprehensive spending review – would simply be swallowed up by PCTs and not spent on adult care.
The government will allocate £0.8bn to PCTs for adult care in 2011-12 and about £1bn a year after that until 2014-15. A minority of this – £150m in 2011-12 and £300m in 2012-13 – will be retained by PCTs to spend on reablement care, while the rest will be transferred to councils, Lansley said.
After his speech, Lansley said he wanted to see councils spend the transferred funding on preventive services such as telecare, home adaptations or equipment, but he said they could also use it to prop up services that would otherwise be cut. He also suggested it could be used to prevent councils increasing eligibility thresholds, adding: “What we didn’t want to have are reductions in eligibility for people with moderate or substantial needs.”
Lansley said the funding for PCTs to spend on reablement would complement new rules that will see NHS hospital trusts take responsibility for patients in the 30 days after discharge, incentivising NHS spending on after care and support.
The NHS funding for social care is designed to compensate councils for a 28% cut in funding from government from 2011-15. Lansley told the conference that the government had “made key choices to achieve a vital settlement for social care”, and praised the role of care services minister Paul Burstow in arguing on behalf of the sector.
Lansley’s statement on the NHS funding was welcomed as “excellent” by David Rogers, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, while it was also backed by Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Richard Jones.
However, Jones added: “If we are to meet the challenges we are facing this is a useful first step but if that’s where the conversation ends it’s going to be very difficult.”
What do you think?Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails