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Social Care: Funding

Volume 619: debated on Monday 16 January 2017

Our actions through the spending review in 2015 and the provisional local government finance settlement have brought the total dedicated funding for adult social care to £7.6 billion over the four years from 2016 to 2020. How much a local council spends on adult social care is rightly a matter for local councillors, who know these pressures best.

The Local Government Association has been clear that the money raised through increasing the social care precept will not be nearly enough to address the £2.6 billion gap facing adult social care by 2020. Instead of exacerbating the postcode lottery, will the Secretary of State not commit to additional ring-fenced resources for social care to tackle this crisis?

In the last spending review, the Government allocated an additional £3.5 billion a year by 2020 to adult social care. Just a few weeks ago, I announced £900 million of additional help over the next two years. Local councils do have to play a role in this, and I note that in Sunderland the average council tax bill is down in real terms since 2010. If a local council in Sunderland chooses to allocate more, it can do that.

For many of my constituents the fundamental problem in all too many cases is that we still separate healthcare funding and social care provision. That makes no sense to my constituents and increasingly little sense to me. I therefore urge the Secretary of State to speed up the integration of health and social care provision, so that we can actually deal with patients’ needs in the round and put them, rather than budgetary arguments, first.

My hon. Friend makes a very important point, which is that adult social care is not all about money. Of course, money and resources have a huge role to play, but it is also about how those services are delivered. The many councils that are able to approach integration in a better way have seen significant efficiencies, and we can all learn from that.

I appeal to the Secretary of State to face the House, so that we can all benefit from his mellifluous tones.

19. Between 2010 and 2020, around £40 million will have been taken out of the adult social care budget in Hull. The effect could be seen this weekend in what is happening in our local NHS hospitals. Will the Secretary of State think again and make sure that the problems that local authorities such as Hull are facing are addressed by central Government ring-fenced money? (908161)

I am sure that the hon. Lady will welcome the announcement made a few weeks ago that tried to recognise the pressures that she identifies: there will be £900 million of additional funding over the next two years, on top of the £3.5 billion by 2020. She rightly highlights that we need to keep looking at this situation to see what more can be done.

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr Prisk). Most Members have had somebody come to their constituency surgery who desperately needs help, with local government and the health service agreeing that they need help with social care, but with both blaming each other, and it becoming a complete mess. Would it not be a good idea, on a cross-party basis, to look at a new model for social care?

My hon. Friend is right to point that out, and I have seen many situations such as he describes in my constituency. He also highlights the need for all of us to talk about this issue to see what we can do, working together.

20. According to Stoke-on-Trent’s clinical commissioning group, there is, on average, a 26-day delay between someone being ready to leave Royal Stoke University hospital and getting social care in place, and that despite a £6 million subsidy from the CCG. Is that the fault of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, or is it because of the Government’s lack of funding? (908162)

Again, the hon. Gentleman highlights the fact that for many areas, delivering adult social care is challenging, which is why I know he would welcome our recent announcement of additional funding on top of the funding settlement announced in the spending review in 2015. But the Government also recognise that there needs to be a long-term, sustainable solution, and I know that is the reform he would welcome.

I spent a day with carers just before Christmas, seeing the amazing work they do across Rossendale. They, like me, feel frustrated that they are constantly under financial pressure, so will the Minister look at what can be done about increasing funding for social care, in addition to what we have already done, and making sure that the funding has a cast-iron ring fence to make sure that the money goes where it is needed most?

I can assure my hon. Friend that we will continue to look at the resources applied to adult social care, from both local councils and central Government, to make sure that they are adequate. We will also continue to push the case for reform to ensure that all councils realise that more can be done, besides just getting more funding.

What steps is the Secretary of State taking to ensure that local authorities are able to move patients in need of social care from hospitals to a more appropriate facility in a timely manner, thus preventing bed-blocking?

The hon. Lady will know that both my Department, working with local authorities, and the Department of Health have a role to play in doing just that; they are working together closely on integration plans with all local councils. Part of the funding— £1.5 billion a year by 2020, in the improved better care fund—is designed to do just what the hon. Lady suggests; it is money that goes towards trying to promote just such integration.

Library figures show that between November 2013 and November 2016, instances of bed-blocking for which social care needs were solely responsible increased by 89%. In the 12 months to November 2016 alone, bed-blocking has increased by 39%. Does the Minister recognise that the precept package brought forward by the Government in December is insufficient to solve the crisis in our social care system, and is putting further pressure on our already stretched NHS?

What the Minister recognises is that the additional funding announced in December will make a big difference: £240 million of additional money is coming in from the new homes bonus repurposing; and an additional almost £600—[Interruption.] It is new money. An additional almost £600 million is coming in from the precept changes. When it comes to using that money, we all want to see a reduction in delayed transfers of care. The hon. Lady will be aware of big differences between local councils on delayed transfers of care, and some councils can certainly learn from others.