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Better care fund receives a £1.5bn boost in spending review

Better care fund receives a £1.5bn boost in spending review

Chancellor George Osborne has said that the NHS budget will rise from its current level of £101 to £120bn by 2020/21 in today's spending review
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Chancellor George Osborne has said that the NHS budget will rise from its current level of £101 to £120bn by 2020/21 in today's spending review.

He also announced that the Department of Health's Whitehall budget will face a 25% cut to help meet the required £22bn efficiency savings set out by the NHS chief executive Simon Stevens in his Five Year Forward View.

He said there would be a £1.5bn increase to the Better Care Fund, which was set up to help with the integration of health and social care.

Osborne will allow local authorities to raise council tax by 2% as long as the money raised is spent solely on social care, recognising that social care cuts put an increased pressure on health care services. This is expected to raise £2bn.

Dr Amanda Doyle, NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chair and chief clinical officer for NHS Blackpool CCG said:

"In our submission to [the treasury] on what was needed in the spending review, we were clear that action to address the funding gap in social care was critical, as the quality and availability of social care services is one of the biggest risks to the NHS. 

"It is not clear yet how the measures announced today to increase the Better Care Fund and raise money via council tax increases will plug that gap and there is evidence to show that those local authorities with the biggest funding cuts are also those with the least ability to raise money through increasing council tax.

 

"To not seriously address the funding issues in social care will have a direct knock-on effect to wider NHS services and inevitably have a detrimental impact on what CCGs are able to achieve for their local patients and populations. It will also have implications on the role they can play in making the £22bn efficiency savings that the NHS needs."

There are also plans for every business to have a digital tax account that will be funded by the closure of local tax offices.

The cap on nursing numbers, which he said forced hopsitals to look overseas and use expensive agencies, will be scrapped. There will be loans for nurses instead of grants and 10,000 new training places will be created.

Mental health got a mention as he announced £600m aditional funding to increase access to services such as talking therapies and perinatal care.

The chancellor avoided making controversial cuts to working tax credits and the police and said that the country was on track to achieve a surplus of £10.1bn in 2020/21  rising to £14.7bn in 2021.

Osborne said he would borrow £8bn less than predicted and the government was therefore "fixing the roof while the sun is shining".

Overall a limit of £756bn will be set for public expenditure rising to £857bn in 2020/21.

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