Efforts to bolster the struggling social care system in Birmingham while the city’s sustainability and transformation plan focuses on dealing with NHS funding pressures have pushed the council’s projected overspend this year to £35m, it has emerged.
Peter Hay, Birmingham City Council’s director for people, told HSJ sister title Local Government Chronicle that figure included £20m underwritten by council reserves to be spent on protecting adult social care services.
Mr Hay said the city’s STP – led by council chief executive Mark Rogers – was focused on tackling NHS funding problems rather than a system-wide solution for health and care in the city.
LGC reports that Mr Rogers has been frustrated by NHS bodies’ focus on their financial position.
Mr Hay said the “care system is in difficulty in Birmingham”. He added: “We supported the STP process but it is about the NHS budget crisis and has stayed very much within the NHS and not taken us into system reform.”
Mr Hay said the council had lost 135 care home beds over the summer, partly due to Four Seasons closing three homes in the city, and faced a significant shortage in its social care workforce.
He added the council had not yet received £13m of its better care fund allocation from the city’s clinical commissioning groups and the financial position would worsen dramatically if it was not paid.
Mr Hay said he expected to receive the funding as agreed, but added the “real problem” was that the better care fund was back-loaded to 2019-20.
“We are in trouble now and even more next year,” Mr May said. “If we manage to live [to 2019-20] then it is all fine, but we are not going to get that far,” he said.