Magazine article Public Finance

A Long Stretch

Magazine article Public Finance

A Long Stretch

Article excerpt

The recent health white paper offered a Promised Land, where NHS and social care services work in harmony, with the 'service fitted around the patient, not the patient fitted around the service'.

Well, it was a good sound bite, but the early signs are far from promising. This week's survey of social services directors in England shows a £1.76bn funding black hole and a notable lack of joined-up working with the NHS.

The report is a sobering read and - with a response rate of more than 80% has to be taken seriously.

It shows that almost half of local authorities have faced funding cuts from primary care trusts. A number of 'Section 31' agreements between social services departments and PCTs also appear to be breaking down (see news story, page 6).

January's white paper stressed the importance of social care in allowing people to retain independence and control over their lives. It put the emphasis firmly on prevention rather than cure.

But the funding is simply not sufficient to make this happen. In the recent local government settlement, half of councils with social services responsibilities received an increase of 2% or less. …

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