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House of Lords Hansard
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Personal Healthcare Budgets: Sheffield
04 September 2019
Volume 799

Question

Asked by

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the difference in the number of people covered by personal health care budgets or Independent Living Fund payments in Sheffield between (1) January and June 2019, (2) January and June 2018, (3) January and June 2017, and (4) January and June 2015.

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My Lords, the department does not collect the data requested in the specified format. However, the number of people with a personalised health budget is calculated on a quarterly basis within each financial year, which ends on 31 March. Currently, 53,143 people benefit from a personal health budget nationally. I shall write to the noble Lord this afternoon with a full breakdown of all the data that we collect in relation to Sheffield and place a copy of the letter in the Library.

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I am grateful to the Minister. Can she help me with a very practical question relating to the county council’s publication last week, and that of the Institute for Government today, in respect of the funding of social and the interim grant that was due to run out at the end of March next year, which constituted a third of government spending? Can we presume that the amount announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon is in addition to renewing that temporary grant? If it is, is it not a strange paradox that it is half a billion pounds less than the amount that he announced in respect of a no-deal arrangement with the European Union?

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The noble Lord has asked a very important question and I am pleased that the Prime Minister has followed through on his commitment to improve the situation for local authorities and for social care, not only by increasing funding for social care by £1 billion today but by increasing funding for local authorities. This is a welcome change for local authorities, which need to ensure that they can fund the commitments that we have. In addition to the letter that I shall place in the Library, I shall be happy to follow up on the specific challenge that the noble Lord raised regarding Sheffield following Questions.

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My Lords, personal healthcare budgets and payments from the Independent Living Fund can offer an individual freedom and choice, but will the Minister tell the House what advocacy support accompanies these payments, so that members of the public can be well informed and choose the best providers for their needs?

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Personal health budgets play a really important role, not only in supporting individuals to have personalised care but by making sure that we can seek support from social prescribing and community care, just as the noble Baroness mentioned. These plans are designed not only between the general practitioner and the supporter, but with the patient; therefore, the right information is provided to the patient in an open and transparent manner so that they can ensure they get the right care. It is important to note that those in receipt of this care have an 87% satisfaction that they are receiving the care they want in a much more effective way than they were before.

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My Lords, NHS continuing healthcare is supposed to provide a lifeline when older people and their families are at their most vulnerable and face sky-high costs as the result of chronic health conditions. However, this system is confusing and the rules arbitrary, resulting in a significant postcode lottery. Since 2015 more than 4,000 adults have died while awaiting a decision on their care to be made. What action are the Government taking to ensure that every person in need gets the support they need promptly, regardless of where they live?

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One of the actions we have taken today is increasing funding to local authorities to relieve some of the pressures on them, increasing real-terms spending on public health, and also £1 billion for social care. In addition to that, there is a clear impetus from the long-term plan to increase personal health budgets, which are a very important aspect of the solution, because it will lead to an integration of spending and an integrated assessment of NHS care and social care. This is a real gap within the solutions for those who receive this support, which is why we want to make sure that we roll this out much faster than we have before. There is a commitment to have 200,000 people on personal health budgets and we are ahead of our ambitions on that.