BCF Update

Following the publication of the BCF planning guidance, a couple of issues have arisen which are worth clarifying.

Over the last few months, we have negotiated hard to ensure continued support for adult social care, the removal of the pay for performance condition, and for an appropriate response to the issue of delayed transfers of care. While we would have liked to have seen a more permissive position on the replacement for the pay for performance condition and delayed transfers of care, we believe that the guidance overall represents a better outcome for local government than last year.


Protection of social care funding - We expect that the agreement reached will ensure that adult social care services receive at least the same minimum protection as last year. Where localities agreed greater support last year, changes to the level of protection will need to be agreed locally, accounted for in BCF plans and will be reviewed for appropriateness as part of the regional assurance process. Some areas have had an adjusted reduction to BCF transfer entitlements because CCGs allocations have been reduced. This will be limited to 2% in real terms. 

To see clarification on this and any other issues or questions, it would be helpful to read the guidance alongside the policy framework. The framework is much clearer on the precise meaning of the national condition on the protection of social care – see page 14 maintaining provision of social care services. The policy framework states ‘As a minimum, it should maintain in real terms the level of protection as provided through the mandated minimum element of local Better Care Fund agreements of 2015-16’. Any challenges should be picked up through the regional assurance process.

 

DFG and social care capital grant - You may be aware that there have been a number of changes to the allocations for BCF next year, most notably around capital allocations. DFG allocations have increased from £220m in 2015/16 to £394m in 2016/17. ADASS and the LGA have welcomed this additional investment. However, we have also recently learnt that the social care capital grant has been removed, and local government’s concerns about this have been conveyed to government departments.

It is positive that the overall capital funding for local government will increase by 11% in 2016/17 and up to £500m by 2019/20. Routing this additional funding through DFG will continue to require local areas, particularly in two tier areas, to ensure they have a jointly agreed plan for use of that money that both meets the statutory duties around DFG whilst also meeting the wider objectives set out as part of local BCF plans. The funding isn’t ring-fenced and will be allocated on the same terms as in 2015/16, and the existing flexibilities around use of that funding will remain.

The Department of Health has issued a letter to councils confirming the position in relation to capital funding. There will be a further LASSL which confirms details and allocations of Department of Health local authority specific revenue funding.

 

Care Act money in BCF – For the BCF 16/17 there has been an allocation of £138m from the Care Act money (up from £135m in 15/16). The money is within the CCG allocations and is calculated on the RNF (not CCG formula). The specific uses of the money has changed from 15/16, to focus on support for carers and advocacy. The Department of Health are yet to confirm how the other components of the Care Act are being funded – a letter is expected on this soon. In the meantime, and as per last year, the LGA has produced the attached ready reckoner to support areas in their local budget setting. The ready reckoner provides an illustrative breakdown on Care Act funding through the BCF and general council funding in 2016/17 based on latest discussions with the Department of Health. The ready reckoner will be updated as DH confirms further funding decisions.

 

No sense of alignment with existing programmes – NHSE nationally has confirmed that STP footprints should be determined by local partners and have acknowledged that this may not be the message that some partnerships have heard or been given.


Mark Hill

ADASS Policy and Analysis Officer

mark.hill@adass.org.uk