Emergency care fund 'crisis spending' fears

A new report by iMPOWER has detailed how councils have used the £2 billion Improved Better Care Fund (iBCF) since it was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond last Spring.

With £1 billion of the funding almost spent, and another £1 billion to be invested by March 2020, the report argues that sustainable change is only possible if more of the £2 billion is used to manage demand, not just meet it.

The paper suggests that NHS and local authorities working closer together has helped to reduce Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOC), which fell by 26 per cent between February 2017 and January 2018. This is despite just 8.5 per cent of the first £1 billion of iBCF money went on new demand management initiatives. Three-quarters of the funding was spent on supporting existing services, the report found.

Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “When the £2 billion for adult social care was announced by the government in last year’s Spring Budget, it said this could be spent in three ways – meeting adult social care needs, reducing pressures on the NHS, and ensuring the local provider market was supported.

“Councils are absolutely committed to tackling the pressures on hospitals, and have made significant progress reducing delayed transfers of care attributable to social care. However it is vital they are given the freedom and flexibility to spend social care money where they feel it can be most effective in local communities. Councils need to be able to prioritise prevention work, which is key to reducing the pressures on the health service and keeping people out of hospital in the first place, so they can lead fulfilling and independent lives in their communities and close to their loved ones.”

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