In recognition of the pressure that local authorities face, we prioritised adult social care at the last spending review and provided an extra £7.2 billion to protect access to services that support vulnerable people. It is for local authorities to choose how best to use the available funding.
In asking my question, I should point out that I am a vice-president of the Local Government Association.
The LGA believes that local government is facing a financial black hole and that the Government’s severe cuts to local authority budgets are a false economy, as those unable to pay the escalating charges for social care are more likely down the line to require costly hospital or residential care. Before making cuts to local government budgets, did the Secretary of State have any meaningful discussion with the Secretary of State for Health on the potential implications for health service budgets?
There are constant discussions between the Secretary of State and his colleagues in the Department of Health. As a result of those discussions, we have now not only introduced the £7.2 billion, but are encouraging much closer working between health and social care and are putting in an additional £300 million over two years to facilitate that joint working.
I am also a vice-president of the LGA.
Given the pressures that we know are falling very heavily on our councils, particularly along the south coast, what plans does the Minister have to showcase best practice as councils begin to bring health and social care funding together, particularly in terms of early cost-effective interventions?
My hon. Friend raises a very important point. Many local councils are now working much more closely and effectively with the health services in their area. They are providing greater focus on preventive care and a joined-up approach to the commissioning and delivery of services. Colleagues in my Department and the Department of Health will be working closely to make sure we promote the sorts of successes we are seeing around the country.
19. Councils across the country are facing budget cuts of 28%, and my council in Oldham is facing a cut of up to 50%. The impact on social care budgets is devastating, as one quarter of local authority budgets are made up of adult social care. The King’s Fund has said that the amount of money the Government have found for social care is absolutely inadequate. On that basis, will the Government support Labour’s call to use £1.2 billion of the NHS under- spend to invest in social care, and make sure that the people who need care are getting it? (157178)
What we are doing is looking at the great success of those local authorities that are coming together to work more effectively to drive down costs. There are very good examples, including west Cheshire, where integrated health and adult care could save £26 million over a five-year period. This integration is delivering better quality care at lower cost.