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Care services at risk as fears of funding shortage grow

Three short-term funds are due to close in March 2020

Councils in England could have to start scrapping care services within weeks unless they receive extra funding as part of the government’s upcoming spending plans, it has been reported.

Nearly £2.4bn of the £16.6bn set aside this year for services for the elderly and disabled comes from three short-term funds, but they are due to close in March 2020.

The biggest source of temporary funding is the Better Care Fund. It is worth £1.8bn to councils this year and pays for a variety of different services, including care home places and emergency care teams to support people at home.

The other two smaller pots are one-off funds that were set up to plug gaps while the government came up with plans to reform the care funding system.

Councillor David Williams, of the County Councils Network, told BBC News: “We are in the dark over whether this lifeline for care services will continue.”

He said councils would have to start giving notice on contracts they have with agencies unless ministers act.

Gary Fielding, of North Yorkshire County Council, added that his council has used the temporary funding to set up a discharge hub to help get patients out of hospital quickly as well as a team of “living well” co-ordinators to support frail older people to prevent them going into hospital.

“We’re not quite sure what plans to make. If this money is not there we’re going to see some significant service reductions,” he warned. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said plans for care funding would be revealed in the spending announcement on 4 September.