Extra Â£22m for county social care services in Budget is welcomed
An extra Â£22m has been provided for East Sussex's social care services in the Chancellor's Spring Budget.
Philip Hammond unveiled the extra £2bn in grant funding nationally over the next three years as the ‘system was clearly under pressure’.
This follows lobbying from East Sussex County Council calling for action to address funding shortfalls.
Like many local authorities across the country it is facing increased demand for services due to an ageing population as well as budget pressures after cuts to the funding it receives from central Government.
The county council’s share of the extra funding in the Budget includes £11m in 2017/18, £7.3m in 2018/19 and £3.6m in 2019/20, totalling £21.9m.
David Elkin, the county council’s deputy leader and lead member for resources, said, “We have faced considerable financial challenges in recent years, having saved close to £100 million this decade, with a further £17 million of savings due in 2017-18.
“As a county with an ageing population, this has placed considerable pressure on our adult social care services.
“While the extra funding for social care announced by the Chancellor won’t fill this gap, it will help us to further mitigate the savings we’re having to make and as such is something we welcome.
“We’re also pleased the Government has announced a Green Paper on long-term funding for social care as it’s vital there is a sustainable model in place, to meet the growing demand for services now and in the future.
“We will continue to work with colleagues in the NHS through the East Sussex Better Together programme, which is aimed at ensuring we employ a joined-up approach and make the best use of the resources available for health and social care in the county.
“We are awaiting full details of the additional funding and will need to study this before we know what the impact will be in East Sussex and how it will affect our adult social care budget over the next three years.”
Mr Hammond said the funding would enable local authorities to commission more new care packages.
He added, “Alongside additional funding, the Health and Communities Secretaries will announce measures to identify and support authorities which are struggling, and to ensure more joined up working with the NHS.
“These measures, and greater collaborative working under NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans, will bring short and medium-term benefits.
“But the long-term challenges of sustainably funding care in older age requires a strategic approach.
“And the Government will set out its thinking on the options for the future financing of social care in a Green Paper later this year.”
Mr Hammond said they needed to ensure local authorities and the NHS worked more closely to enable elderly patients to be discharged when they are ready, freeing up more hospital beds.
John Ungar, the Lib Dems’ spokesman for adult social care at the county council, said the Government U-turn showed a ‘belated recognition’ of how wrong ministers were to not announce extra funds last month as part of the local government finance settlement.
He added, “Until we know how the extra funds will be used by East Sussex County Council we will not be sure that the problem will be properly addressed even in the short term.
“We also do not know what strings will be attached to the use of the monies. Until we know these things we will not know how far these funds will go towards addressing the crisis in Adult Social Care.
“As a matter of urgency East Sussex will need to develop new services to assist with the timely discharge of patents from hospital.
“These services cannot just be turned on and off so will take months if not years to develop and settle in.
“This sudden turning on of some funds shows that the government does not understand the complexity of the provision of social care.
“Years of under funding by this government have taken a toll on the care system that will take a long time to repair.
“Adult Social Care is still to be properly funded and requires proper planning.”
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