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Southend Council has warned there could be a “significant impact” on social care services if the Government does not continue funding that is due to end next year.
Concern over the possibility of further Government cuts comes after an organisation representing unitary authorities across the country warned services will need to be slashed and council tax increased if the funding is not extended.
The County Councils Network said that included in the £2.4billion of funding at risk is the Better Care Fund which helps to relieve pressures on the NHS by helping elderly residents to live independently for longer.
The Department of Health and Social Care said earlier this year that since its introduction the fund has helped free up the equivalent of 1,200 hospital beds.
Councillor Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: “We are currently awaiting the financial settlement from central government and we are expecting that the Better Care Fund will continue for the next year. If it were removed after that, it would have a significant impact on the support we provide and we would need to consider how we manage the potential risks.
“At this stage, the Association of Adult Social Services are having conversations with central government regarding the potential impact of stopping the funding and these conversations will continue over the coming months, which we will closely monitor on a day-to-day basis to ensure we are prepared for any and all outcomes.”
David Williams, chairman-elect of the County Councils Network, and leader of Hertfordshire County Council said: “It would be inconceivable that the temporary grants – particularly the Better Care Fund – that have allowed us to prop up care services and address pressures on the NHS over the past few years, will not continue. But we are still in the dark over whether this lifeline for care services will continue.”
He added: “If we are to protect frontline services, the Chancellor must provide councils with the resource to fully fund these pressures as a short-term measure ahead of genuine reform to the system.
“If not, once again council taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill, while frontline services will inevitably be reduced.”