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Care sector ‘at risk despite promises of more money’

Vital care services for older and disabled people in England remain at risk – despite government attempts to protect the sector, care leaders say. Last month, George Osborne announced plans he said would lead to an above-inflation rise in care budgets. But council chiefs, NHS managers and care bosses have cast doubt on those claims in a letter to the chancellor. It warns his plans would leave a funding gap and put vulnerable people at risk – denied by the government. Care services, including care homes and services that provide help in people’s home for tasks such as washing and dressing, are overseen by local councils.

Budget cuts

Only the poorest get help – those with assets of over £23,250 have to pay the full cost of their care. Over the past few years, the numbers getting help have fallen as councils have struggled to cope with cuts to their budgets. But in last month’s spending review, Mr Osborne said he was protecting social care budgets by allowing local authorities to raise council tax by 2% and increasing the amount of money available for the Better Care Fund, a joint pot of money used by councils and the NHS to support care services. He said this – coupled with other changes – would mean care budgets would rise, adding the NHS could not “function effectively without good social care”. But now those involved in providing care services are questioning those claims.   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35043987