Council leaders in London are to meet health minister Lord Hunt after warning that £22m in 'cost shunting' will be forced on them by primary care trusts this year.

London Councils, which represents all local authorities in the capital, has identified extra pressures in health and social care amounting to£22m in 2007-08. These were 'due to changes in the assessment of continuing care services, staff reductions and reductions in grants to voluntary organisations', it says.

They came on top of extra demand caused by quicker hospital discharge and 'growing numbers of vulnerable people in the community'.

A London Councils report to members says: 'It is evident from the reports from boroughs that a number of PCTs are continuing to review continuing care assessments to decide if it is appropriate for the people concerned to receive NHS services.

'Avoiding disruption'

'Directors and others are working with the PCTs to ensure joint working and avoid undue disruption, although in several boroughs this has proved difficult to achieve through agreement.'

A London Councils spokesman said: 'A meeting has been arranged in July with Lord Hunt, when we will be making the case that cost shunting is going on and we would welcome ministers' involvement to manage the problem effectively.'

The spokesman said there had been a 'particular impact on people with continuing care needs and people with learning difficulties'.

Gareth Daniel, chief executive of Brent council, which is locked in a dispute with the borough's PCT over£6m of costs, said delegates at the meeting with Lord Hunt would not respond well to 'being read the riot act'. He said: 'What we need from ministers is what plans they have to properly fund the costs of care for councils and PCTs.'

A survey by the Local Government Association in March found that half of councils believed cost shunting will continue at the same rate or worsen. A spokesman said: 'A lot of councils are working very closely with PCTs to ensure there are no problems, but we find where PCTs have difficulties there is a lot of pessimism about the future.'

An NHS London spokesperson said: 'There is no cost shunting to local authorities. PCTs have a statutory responsibility for expenditure on health services.'