Published: 14/02/2017 15:53 - Updated: 14/02/2017 15:59

Highland Council makes u-turn to save adult social care services

Written byHelen Aird

NHS Highland chairman David Alston says a sense of urgency is needed.
NHS Highland chairman David Alston.

THE administration at Highland Council has performed a dramatic u-turn after proposing to cut £1.2 million of funding from NHS Highland for adult social care.

Today the council announced it would now provide £1.174 million from its own reserves to plug the gap after initially identifying the saving in its draft budget.

It comes after NHS Highland chairman David Alston, who is also a councillor for the Black Isle, hit out at the proposal, describing the move as “disappointing.”

When the plan emerged last week, Mr Alston said it was “reasonable” to expect the council to honour previous years’ agreements and provide the same amount of funding as before.

“The reality is that shortfall in our allocation is not simply a £1.2 million gap,” he said. “What will not be obvious to the public is that this represents a real terms reduction of around £7 million because the council’s allocation to NHS Highland fails to address the increasing cost pressures associated with paying the living wage to all care workers, inflation, salaries, and increasing demand.”

Council leader Margaret Davidson said the u-turn was the right decision and made best use of public money. “Since making our budget proposals we have again met with our partners at NHS Highland, to discuss the funding for adult social care,” she said. “The council and NHS Highland have agreed to work together on the vital job of building services in our communities to help prevent older people being admitted to hospital and then finding themselves unable to get back home. If we succeed at this task we will free up far more money to re-invest in services.

“Recognising the importance we place on our commitment to preventative spend, we will fund this adjustment to our proposed budget on a one-off basis from the council’s reserves.”

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