The Better Care Fund 2016/17 Policy Framework has indicated a big rise in the money available for future home adaptations, increasing from £220m in 2015-16 to £394m in 2016-17.

The Better Care Fund is the biggest ever financial incentive for the integration of health and social care. It requires Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities in every single area to pool budgets and to agree an integrated spending plan for how they will use their Better Care Fund allocation. In 2015-16, the Government committed £3.8 billion to the Better Care Fund with many local areas contributing an additional £1.5 billion, taking the total spending power of the Better Care Fund to £5.3 billion.

According to the new Policy Framework, in 2016-17, the Better Care Fund will be increased to a mandated minimum of £3.9 billion to be deployed locally on health and social care through pooled budget arrangements between local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups. The local flexibility to pool more than the mandatory amount will remain. From 2017-18, the government will make funding available to local authorities, worth £1.5 billion by 2019-20, to be included in the Better Care Fund.

The document sets out the policy framework for the implementation of the fund in 2016-17, as agreed across the Department of Health, Department for Communities and Local Government, Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, and NHS England.

The Spending Review sets out an ambitious plan so that by 2020 health and social care are integrated across the country. Every part of the country must have a plan for this in 2017, implemented by 2020. Areas will be able to graduate from the existing Better Care Fund programme management once they can demonstrate that they have moved beyond its requirements.

The Care Act 2014 amended the NHS Act 2006 to provide the legislative basis for the Better Care Fund. It allows for the mandate to NHS England to include specific requirements relating to the establishment and use of an integration fund.

Under the mandate to NHS England for 2016-17, NHS England is required to ring-fence £3.519 billion within its overall allocation to Clinical Commissioning Groups to establish the Better Care Fund. The remainder of the £3.9 billion fund will be made up of the £394 million Disabled Facilities Grant, which is paid directly from the Government to local authorities.

NHS England and the Government will allocate the Better Care Fund to local areas based on a framework agreed with Ministers. For 2016-17, the allocation will be based on a mixture of the existing Clinical Commissioning Group allocations formula, the social care formula, and a specific distribution formula for the Disabled Facilities Grant element of the Better Care Fund.

Within the Better Care Fund allocation to Clinical Commissioning Groups is £138m to support the implementation of the Care Act 2014 and other policies (£135m in 2015-16). Funding previously earmarked for reablement (over £300m) and for the provision of carers’ breaks (over £130m) also remains in the allocation.

The Better Care Fund 2016/17 Policy Framework can be accessed HERE

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