Councils demand support for care outside hospital with £2bn preventive health fund

The government and NHS focus on the state of acute sector finances has overshadowed preventive, primary, community and social care, councils have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA), at its annual conference in Birmingham beginning today, will call on ministers to set up a £2bn transformation fund to ‘double run’ new preventative services until savings can be realised.

The LGA will launch a new report, Growing Places, setting out how it says councils can, with fairer funding and freedom from government, provide better services.

The organisation will call for councils to be allowed to keep all £26bn business rates they collect each year and for the cap on council tax to be lifted so that local services can be made sustainable.

GP leaders have previously criticised cuts to local authority-run social care and public health services and the knock-on effect on primary care and other NHS services.

GP workload

GPonline reported earlier this year that four out of five GPs said cuts to social care had increased workload at their practice over the past year.

In its Growing Places report, the association says councils face a £200m reduction in public health funding, while the attention on acute sector finances has overshadowed the rest of the health and care system with resources channeled into treating symptoms in expensive settings rather than preventive measures, early intervention and day-to-day support by primary, social and community services.

It called for council health and wellbeing boards to be handed more powers over health commissioning and for ministers to close the social care funding gap.

The LGA will warn that by 2020 councils will have lost 75p in every £1 of core central government funding they had to spend in 2015. Almost half of councils will no longer receive any of this funding by 2019/20.

Funding gap

Councils, the LGA will warn, face an overall £5.8bn funding gap by 2020, which it says, could not be plugged even if they stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks and open spaces, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres, turned off every street light and shut all discretionary bus routes.

LGA chair Lord Porter will warn in his speech on Tuesday: ‘Councils can no longer be expected to run our vital local services on a shoestring. We must shout from the roof tops for local government to be put back on a sustainable financial footing.

‘Every penny in local taxation collected locally must be kept by local government and spent on our public services. The cap on council tax also needs to be lifted to ensure new money can be raised locally and spent locally.’

Photo: JH Lancy

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