Back in February 16 I reflected on the lack of publicity about the 80% increase in the DFG budget, made all the more remarkable in the context of most other local government budgets decreasing.
The big question is how much of that extra money will actually be used for increase DFG delivery and, hopefully, system improvements?
At the moment the answer appears to be ‘who knows?’
Local responses to the DFG increase range from a few ‘That’s great, let’s get on and deliver more and in better ways‘ to the cynical ‘It isn’t really more money because ‘they’ (DH) took away our Social Care Capital Grant so we are not going to increase the DFG budget at all’.
To the latter we can only make the plea – ‘use it or lose it’.
As the Spending Review announcement in 2015 made only too clear, DH are rightly looking for a return on their DFG investment. There are expectations about DFG outcomes including delayed admission to residential care, lower care costs and, as the 2016 Better Care Fund Policy Framework states, in reducing delayed transfers of care.
If the local response to extra DFG money is to not use it for the purpose intended then DH will be well within their rights to review payment and delivery systems in future years.
We urgently need to get organised with regard to evidence of resulting benefits from adaptations. Care & Repair England is working with the Centre for Ageing Better with regard to the commissioning of an evidence review. It is also doing its utmost to support plans for ‘proper’ academic research in the field. However, this will take years, rather than months. Local ‘snapshot’ evaluations will be critical in the short term and we are keen to do whatever we can to help to develop methods and share ideas in this area. [May 2016]