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£500m cut to local integration funds revealed

Integrated care boards and local authorities are cutting their voluntary contributions to the better care fund by more than £500m compared to a high point in 2021-22.

It appears to be caused by the funding squeeze in both the NHS and local government; extra pressure on ICBs to focus on hospital admissions and discharge; a shift away from pooled budgets as a method of integration; and restructure, with ICBs taking over from clinical commissioning groups in 2022.

Local BCF pooled budgets are made up of mandatory “minimum” funds from ICBs and local government – the largest share, which the government has generally ordered to grow steadily each year – and from the “additional” voluntary contributions.

In the past government has said it wants the sum pooled across the NHS and councils to grow and to ultimately account for most NHS and adult social care spending, to help join up services and decision making.

But figures published on Tuesday by NHS England show the voluntary income going backwards. At its high point in 2021-22, ICBs and councils planned a discretionary ”additional” contribution of £3bn, and the actual spend turned out to be £3.2bn – £2bn from the NHS and £1.2bn from councils.

The newly published figures show the total was planned to fall to £2.8bn in 2023-24 and £2.7bn in 2024-25 – £500m less than the 2021-22 peak spend.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 8 May 2024


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