Health and Social Care Budgets — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:43 am on 14th March 2017.

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Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne The Minister of State, Department of Health 10:43 am, 14th March 2017

As I just said, the STPs provide an opportunity for areas to place greater focus on respite care if they consider that to be required.

I would like to touch on the adequacy of the social care funding package. The announcement means that in the next three years councils will have access to some £9.25 billion of more dedicated funding. That includes extra money going to local authorities through the combination of the improved better care fund and the social care precept, which, for those councils introducing it with effect from next month, will raise some £1 billion extra. The £1 billion provided in the Budget and the £1 billion from the precept amount to the £2 billion called for by external sources for the coming year. That funding will allow councils to expand the numbers of people they are able to support and, in turn, address issues at the interface with the NHS such as delayed discharges from hospital, which as we know cause problems with patient flow through the system.

Questions were raised about how the social care funding is to be allocated. I inform colleagues that 90% will be allocated using the improved better care fund formula to local authorities that have responsibility for adult social care. That distribution takes account of the ability to raise money through the council tax precept for social care and means that it is well targeted at areas of greater need and market fragility. However, in recognition of the social care pressures faced by all councils, 10% of the funding will be allocated using the relative needs formula.

The response to the measures from external audiences reflects comments made by hon. Members today: they have been broadly welcomed. Of course, several hon. Members said that it is not enough, but that is a traditional response to any increase in money—it is always easier to say that it is not enough. Hon. Members have generally recognised that the Government have listened to concerns about social funding. Those of us with responsibility for the health service recognise that there has been a particular problem in dealing with delayed discharges from hospital. Through closer working in the sustainability and transformation plans as they are rolled out across the country, with local authorities working more closely with health service providers, we think that the money will provide a lifeline to help to remove some of those pressures and to improve patient flow through our hospitals.

I would like to touch on the medium-term challenge and how in the coming months we can try to use the development of a social care Green Paper to address the longer-term concerns. The Government are committed to establishing a fair and more sustainable basis for funding adult social care in the light of the future demographic challenges that the country faces. We will therefore bring forward proposals to put the state-funded system on a more secure and sustainable long-term footing, setting out plans in a Green Paper. Some hon. Members asked when the Green Paper will be published. If I was in charge of Government timetabling, I would be in a better position to answer. They will not be surprised to hear that I cannot give a definitive answer, but, to use traditional parliamentary language, it would be fair to say that it is expected to be published in the summer.