Hartlepool councillor demands answers over funding

Coun Stephen Thomas.
Coun Stephen Thomas.

A councillor has complained of the length of time before Government funding to bring health and social care services closer together will be released.

Chancellor George Osborne announced another £1.5billion for local councils and the NHS through the Better Care Fund in his autumn statement.

The cash must be used by local authorities and health leaders to bring better integration of health and social care.

But the majority of the funding, £825 million nationally, will not be available until 2018-19.

Councillor Stephen Thomas said the money was needed locally now with pressure on the council’s budget, and social care including hospital discharge delays.

At a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Adult Services Committee, Coun Thomas said: “I think it’s very sad this funding is being held back for such a long period of time when the crisis is upon us now in this particular area.

“I think it’s another example where the Government’s rhetoric about being committed to improving adult social care in the country isn’t backed up by its actions.”

Jill Harrison, assistant director of adult services, said the authority was awaiting more details on how Hartlepool will benefit.

She stated in a report: “The back loading of this funding is not helpful as councils will face increased inflationary pressures, including phased increases in the National Living Wage and demand pressures in relation to care services in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2019-20.”