The Better Care Fund has been established to push forward the integration of health and social care and is intended to make local services more proactive, responsive and efficient. It is now required that plans indicate how the local voluntary and community sector (VCS) are involved in the planning process, prompting greater engagement between the VCS and Health and Wellbeing Boards. This means that local carers’ organisations can contribute to the planning process by providing specialist expertise and an understanding of carers’ needs so that help and support can be provided in the most suitable way.
There are two new boxes in the BCF Plan which relate directly to carers and to local voluntary sector providers:
- Section 7: National Conditions A (v) states: “Please specify the level of resource that will be dedicated to carer-specific support”
- Section 8: Engagement B (iii) states: “Please state how the following groups of providers have been engaged in the development of the plan and the extent to which it is aligned with their operational plans:
- Social care and providers from the voluntary and community sector"
Section 7 is in recognition of the fact that the BCF includes £130m funding for carers’ breaks, as well as funding to implement the new duties in the Care Act, which includes new rights to assessment and support for carers. The VCS, especially local carers’ services, will be able to provide invaluable expertise on how carers’ needs for support can be met most effectively.
This is a key opportunity to ensure that support for carers and carers’ service providers are reflected in the plan.
It is important that carers’ centres approach their local commissioners to ensure that they are suitably supporting carers in their plans. We want to ensure that there has been meaningful engagement with voluntary organisations, especially for carers, rather than a simple ‘tick-box’ approach.
There is still a short window to contact commissioners as local plans must be submitted by Friday 19th September.