How does the spending review affect health and social care?
Health and social care will become more integrated, according to George Osborne’s 2013 spending review. £3.8bn will be allocated for 2015-16 as a pooled budget for health and social care services to work together in local communities. The aim is to provide better services for the elderly and disabled people, as it is recognised that older people often "fall between the cracks of health and social care”.
This echoes the plans released by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb back in May to join health and care services by 2018, with projects initiated by 2015. That report (click here) looked to end problems associated with older people being discharged from hospital and not having homes adapted to meet their needs, leading to them being re-admitted to hospital, or facing long waits in hospital before being discharged because of a lack of coordination between health and social care.
The financial commitment offered in the spending review will hopefully help some of these issues be addressed. The NHS will be contributing around £2bn to the new shared fund, with the remainder coming from existing commitment. In order for this integration to begin immediately, the NHS will make £200 million available over the next year to invest in the system.
Also in the spending review, the government announced that the Department of Communities and Local Government would face a 10% cut in its resource budget, which could have a huge impact on social care services. Added to this, a welcome freeze in Council Tax for the public, means that local governments will have to account for this in their budgets, adding more strain to services. The welfare system was also addressed, with a cap on benefits (excluding state pension), to help better support older people and tax-payers of working age.
The full documents on the Spending Round 2013 are available here