The £3.8 billion Better Care Fund (BCF) was announced by the Government in June 2013, to support transformation and integration of health and social care services to ensure local people receive better care.
In one of the most highly critical reports ever published by the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office said:
“The Better Care Fund is an innovative idea but the quality of early preparation and planning did not match the scale of the ambition.
“The £1 billion financial savings assumption was ignored, the early programme management was inadequate, and the changes to the programme design undermined the timely delivery of local plans and local government’s confidence in the Fund’s value.
“Ministers were right to pause and redesign the scheme in April this year when they realized it would not meet their expectations.”
It is typical of the Conservatives that they have taken a good idea of improving working between local government and the NHS and damaged it by trying to rush it through with unrealistic savings targets, late revisions and poor management.
Labour councillors at Cheshire East Council have raised concerns about the Better Care Fund which contains bold assumptions about the financial savings expected in 2015-16.
Speaking at the Audit & Governance Committee meeting on 20 November, Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said:
“I wouldn’t want to suggest that the government might inadvertently shift a shedload of liabilities from central government onto local government, but I would like to monitor this very carefully and to know who has the duty to meet any shortfall if the funding provided is not sufficient to meet the statutory duties.”
Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South, added: “The way forward is clearly for more integration between health and social care, but that has to be properly funded.
“The Government has not provided any new money to carry out the Better Care programme; instead the local Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS have to give money to the local authority out of their existing budget.
“In January this year the King’s Fund expressed concerns about the future of the Better Care Fund and said that the projected savings could only come about by adequate investment into the programme.
The clear benefits of better integration of health and social care will only be realised when the Government addresses the long-term major funding needs of the NHS.”
Cllr. Sam Corcoran – Cheshire East Labour Group