£7m funding gap threatens social care services in Norfolk

Almost one in three care homes have been deemed unsatisfactory. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Almost one in three care homes have been deemed unsatisfactory. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Further cuts could be made to social care as Norfolk's council and health leaders are locked in talks over an emerging £7m funding gap.

Negotiations are ongoing between representatives from the county's five clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and Norfolk County Council – after the CCGs decided against making discretionary payments to a special fund.

It means the county's already-squeezed social care budget could see further cuts, impacting on residents who rely on support services.

The issue arose when the five CCGs (Norwich, South Norfolk, West Norfolk, North Norfolk, and Great Yarmouth and Waveney) all decided againts making 'discretionary payments' to the county's Better Care Fund.

Set up in April 2015, the Better Care Fund is a pot of money which is spent on integrating health and social care services (a key aim for the government), which is funded jointly by the CCGs and Norfolk County Council.

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Last year the CCGs provided more than £50m to the fund, of which around £7m was a non-compulsory payment made in a bid to reduce unplanned hospital admissions.

This year the CCGs, which combined have to deliver savings of more than £50m, have told council chiefs they cannot afford to fund the £7m payment – putting services under threat. It means the county is one of only a handful in England that has not completed its Better Care Fund plan, which was supposed to have been signed off on May 3.

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If a deal to address the shortfall cannot be agreed then Department of Health officials would have to step in.

A spokesman for the council said: 'Given the pressures on the NHS and the county council this is a very difficult situation.

'There is no doubt the loss of this money would have an impact above and beyond the savings we are already committed to.'

In a united statement, the five CCGs said: 'Discussions over finances continue in an amicable and constructive way to reach agreement, with all parties recognising the very great pressures that each are facing.

'We share a determination to ensure patient and client services are protected as far as possible through efficient and integrated working.'

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