CIPFA’s annual Health and Social Care Conference took place in Manchester on 21 October.
Access the speakers’ presentations
Naturally enough devolution in Greater Manchester was one of the hot topics covered. Rachel Rosewell, Head of Finance, GM Devolution explained how the complexities are being tackled. The sell-out audience of 60 delegates also heard plenty about the financial challenges facing the health and social care economy.
The messages were gloomy but leavened with humour – as Anita Charlesworth put it ‘I’ve been told I deliver bad news in quite an upbeat way’. It looks like we have to grin and bear it as the 40% reduction in central funding of local government during the last parliament is followed by a similar programme in the new parliament with predictions such as ‘Revenue Support Grant will disappear’, from Adrian Jenkins.
The explanation, said Charlesworth, is simple enough: the Government is set on eliminating 2010’s 10% gap between public spending and current public sector receipts purely by spending reductions, which will result in expenditure falling from 46% of GDP to 36% by 2020.
And matters are just as tough in the NHS, despite the comparative budget protection which has a knock-on effect on local government. Alex Baylis explained how the Care Quality Commission’s soon-to-be-launched Use of Resources assessments will set out to help by setting efficiency assessment in the context of quality.
Professor John Bolton didn’t deny the difficulties, but did suggest that the position in social care was highly variable between authorities, and that many had not yet taken action in all of the key areas to deliver savings.
Simon Williams gave a social care director’s view of how the Better Care Fund is going: it’s proving a help, but is far from a solution.
John Fisher (of Grant Thornton, who sponsored a very successful day) provided a thought-provoking overview of the demographic factors which typically lead to poor health outcomes, and how well regions and authorities are performing against that background.
The day was also an opportunity to launch three CIPFA products aiming to assist practitioners deal with the challenges:
1. The Insight publication Let’s Get Together: Integrating Health and Social Care
2. The Glossary for NHS and local authority finance and governance - co-produced with HFMA
3. Our forthcoming training products which will seek to improve whole system working by helping health and local government finance staff to better understand each other’s agendas.