The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has many conversations with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and most recently they have been discussing the fact that effectively targeted NHS spend can reduce the need for social care, just as effectively targeted social care spending can reduce pressures on the NHS.
Bedford Borough Council has the country’s lowest rate of delayed transfers of care. Instead of being congratulated, the council has been told that it will now be penalised if it fails to meet zero delays, when other authorities have much more generous allowances. Does the Minister agree that he should be supporting Bedford Borough Council to be the best in the country, instead of making that as difficult as possible through the delays in funding and the unfair targets?
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is essential that both local authorities and the health service work more closely together to provide a seamless combined service? That requires a change in culture at local level, similar to the one in Gloucestershire, where we have an excellent joint commissioning board.
My hon. Friend is right about that and right to highlight the work of his local authority, which is a pioneer in collaborating more closely with the local NHS. That is showing tremendous results on the ground in reducing delayed transfers of care, which are stopping people from getting into the NHS in the first place. I hope that others can learn from Gloucestershire’s example.