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More than £6.9 billion has been committed to the Better Care Fund this year to continue driving integration between health and social care and support local recovery from the pandemic, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.

The Better Care Fund (BCF) has been increased this year to continue driving integration between the health and social care system and support local recovery from the pandemic.

Established in 2015, the BCF joins up the NHS, social care and housing services so older people, and those with complex needs, can manage their own health and wellbeing, and live independently in their communities for as long as possible.

It establishes pooled budgets between the NHS and local authorities, aiming to reduce the barriers often created by separate funding streams. The pooled budget is a combination of contributions from the following areas:

  • minimum allocation from NHS clinical commissioning group(s) (CCGs)
  • disabled facilities grant (DFG) – local authority grant
  • social care funding (improved BCF) – local authority grant
  • winter pressures grant funding £240 million – local authority grant

Now, the UK Government has revealed a multi-billion-pound funding boost to the BCF in 2021-2022. This will help people to stay at home and live independently as far as possible, to minimise the time spent in hospital, and to help them recover after they leave hospital by enabling access to care and support services if needed.

The BCF will be a minimum of £6.9 billion in 2021-22, including £4.3 billion of NHS funding and £2.1 billion from the improved Better Care Fund (iBCF) grant to local authorities and £573 million from the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG).

The NHS contribution to the BCF is increasing by 5.3 percent in line with the NHS Long Term Plan settlement, and the iBCF and DFG are being maintained at their 2020-21 levels. This was confirmed in the 2020 Spending Review.

In addition, the BCF Policy Framework has now been published for 2021-22, which aims to build on progress during the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening the integration of commissioning and delivery of services and delivering person-centred care.

According to the policy framework, the national conditions for the BCF in 2021 to 2022 are:

  1. a jointly agreed plan between local health and social care commissioners, signed off by the health and wellbeing board
  2. NHS contribution to adult social care to be maintained in line with the uplift to CCG minimum contribution
  3. invest in NHS-commissioned out-of-hospital services
  4. a plan for improving outcomes for people being discharged from hospital
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