Matt Hancock to pump £240m into social care in bid to stave off winter crisis
The Health Secretary will today pledge to inject an extra £240m into the social care system in a bid to avoid a winter crisis in the NHS.
Matt Hancock will tell the Conservative party Conference that the fresh funds are needed to curb unnecessary hospital admissions and free up beds.
He will say: "I want to help the NHS through this winter, too.
"I have already provided funding for hospitals to make upgrades to their buildings to deal with pressures this winter.
"And I can announce that today I am making an extra £240m available to pay for social care packages this winter to support our NHS.
“We will use this money to get people who don’t need to be in hospital, but do need care, back home, back into their communities, so we can free up those vital hospital beds and help people who really need it get the hospital care they need.”
The Conservatives said the cash boost for councils would allow local authorities to buy more than 71,500 domestic care packages or more than 86,000 so-called "reablement" packages - a short-term form of intervention designed to support a care user's independence.
But Labour said the fresh cash promised by the Health Secretary amounted to "a drop in the ocean".
Shadow Social Care Minister Barbara Keeley said: "There is a severe crisis in social care caused by eight years of Tory austerity and tinkering at the edges like this is not going to solve it."
“Labour will rebuild social care services, starting with an extra £8bn across a parliament to start to ease the crisis, to lift care quality and ensure more people get the support they need.”
Ian Hudspeth of the Local Government Association - which acts as the umbrella group for councils - welcomed the "desperately needed" extra funding.
But he warned: "Councils and providers cannot simply turn services on and off as funding ebbs and flows.
"Putting in place the right services and workforce requires forward planning and longer-term contracts."
The LGA warned earlier this year that adult social care services face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025 just to maintain existing standards of care.