Response to Opposition Day Debate: Local authority social care funding

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written statement – made on 19th June 2019.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government

Today I would like to update the House on local authority social care funding following the Opposition day debate of 24 April 2019

Our local authorities and the people who work for them are delivering essential services and changing lives and it is right we support them to succeed. This is why this Government has given our local authorities in England access to £46.4 billion in 2019-20. This represents a real-terms increase and a cash increase of 2.8%.

The 4-year settlement, accepted by 97% of local authorities, gives our most deprived areas access to substantially more funding than the least. The average core spending power per dwelling for the 10% most deprived authorities is around 22% more than for the least deprived 10% in 2019-20.

The settlement this year includes extra funding for local services with a strong focus on supporting some of our most vulnerable groups.

The Government is committed to person-centred integrated care, with health, social care, housing and other public services working together seamlessly to provide better care. The Better Care Fund, introduced in 2015, is our national policy driving forward the integration of health and social care in England.

In every year of the Fund, local areas have voluntarily pooled more than the minimum required taking the total to £7.7bn in 2018-19. We know that this is having a positive impact locally with 90% of local health and care system leaders saying that the Better Care Fund had a positive impact on integration locally (2018-19), and levels of Delayed Transfers of Care which have reduced since February 2017, with more than 2,000 beds per day being freed up.

We announced at last year’s Autumn Budget more than £1 billion of extra funding for councils, with £650 million going towards adult and children’s social care in 2019-20. Of that, £410 million can be spent on adult or children’s social care and, where necessary, take the pressure off the NHS, meeting requests from local authorities for greater flexibility.

The remaining £240 million has been allocated to ease pressures on the NHS. This is on top of the £240 million announced in October which allowed councils to provide additional care to over 35,000 people, delivering 4 million hours of homecare in 2018-19.

Taken together with the adult social care precept and the improved Better Care Fund, Government has given councils access to around £10 billion in dedicated funding which can be used for adult social care in the 3-year period from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

A further £145 million capital funding has been given to hospitals to provide winter improvements such as upgrading wards and redeveloping A&Es and an additional £36.3 million has been invested into the ambulance services for new vehicles and ‘make-ready hubs’. This is on top of the additional £1.6bn for the NHS in 2018-19 to support A&E and elective care performance.

This Government has been able to make these significant investments in social care because of the balanced approach we have taken to our public finances – investing in public services while keeping debt falling.

In 2017-18, local government spent £17.1 billion on adult social care, up by £390 million from £16.75 billion in 2016-17.

We are also investing £84 million in protecting our children over the next five years to expand three of our most successful children’s social care innovation programme projects. The projects will keep more children at home safely in up to 20 local authorities.

Helping the most vulnerable in our society also means supporting troubled families and local government is at the heart of this agenda.

Our Troubled Families Programmes helps local authorities support families with complex needs and improve outcomes for individuals.

It has been a catalyst for local services, transforming how they work together, making them more integrated and cost-efficient – reducing dependency and demand for expensive services.

The results speak for themselves. The latest national programme evaluation shows that – when compared to a similar comparison group – targeted intervention saw:

- the number of children going into care down by a third;

- the number of adults going to prison down by a quarter and juveniles in custody down by a third; and

- 10% fewer people claiming Jobseekers Allowance.

Although I recognise there is more to do, these outcomes are a real tribute to the efforts of family workers, local authorities and their many partners in our public services and the voluntary sector.

Our work supporting vulnerable families is much more than the financial boost you get from a regular wage, it’s about the pride and dignity that comes from being able to take control of your own life.

This Government has given local authorities the tools and resources they need to do this vital work.

The end of the current multi-year deal is in sight, and it’s clear we need to take a longer view on how we fund councils, as we move to a stronger, sustainable and smarter system of local government.

Preparations for increased business rates retention, a new approach to distributing funding between local authorities and the upcoming Spending Review will be pivotal to this. Important work is underway with authorities and the wider sector to better understand service costs and pressures.

For years, councils have asked for more control over the money raised. We have listened and responded through our plans to increase business rates retention to 75% by devolving additional grants, and in the process providing local authorities with powerful incentives to grow their economies.

Local authorities estimate they will retain around £2.5 billion in business rates growth in 2019-20 under the current system. This is a significant revenue stream on top of the core settlement funding.

In addition to giving more control, councils want and need to see a clearer link between the allocation of resources and local circumstances.

Our new funding formula will ensure a more transparent link between local needs and resources and the funding councils receive. We will ensure that measures of deprivation are, rightly, central to this, when we look at services like adult social care, children’s services, fire services and public health – because we want a system that ensures no one is left behind.

The Government is determined to give all local authorities the freedoms and flexibilities they need, so that they can continue to flourish and deliver vital services to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1598