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2016/17 Better Care Fund

Policy Framework

The Better Care Fund is the biggest ever financial incentive for the integration of health and social care. It requires Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities in every single area to pool budgets and to agree an integrated spending plan for how they will use their Better Care Fund allocation. In 2015-16, the Government committed £3.8 billion to the Better Care Fund with many local areas contributing an additional £1.5 billion, taking the total spending power of the Better Care Fund to £5.3 billion.

Current health and care approaches have evolved to respond reactively to changes in an individual’s health or ability to look after themselves, and they often do not meet people’s expectations for person-centred co-ordinated care. Greater integration is seen as a potential way to use resources more efficiently, in particular by reducing avoidable hospital admissions and facilitating early discharge.

We recognise that local areas are at different points in their integration journey and in supporting them to achieve their ambitions for integrated care, we will need to prioritise progress on known barriers to change to ensure the key factors associated with successful integration are embedded and shared across the system. The Better Care Fund and other drivers of integrated care such as New Care Models pave the way for greater integration of health and social care services.

In 2016-17, the Better Care Fund will be increased to a mandated minimum of £3.9 billion to be deployed locally on health and social care through pooled budget arrangements between local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups. The local flexibility to pool more than the mandatory amount will remain. From 2017-18, the government will make funding available to local authorities, worth £1.5 billion by 2019-20, to be included in the Better Care Fund. In looking ahead to 2016-17, it is important that Better Care Fund plans are aligned to other programmes of work including the new models of care as set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View and delivery of 7-day services.

This document sets out the policy framework for the implementation of the fund in 2016-17, as agreed across the Department of Health, Department for Communities and Local Government, Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, and NHS England. In developing this policy framework, the strong feedback from local areas of the need to reduce the burden and bureaucracy in the operation of the Better Care Fund has been taken on board, and we have streamlined and simplified the planning and assurance of the Better Care Fund in 2016-17, including removing the £1 billion payment for performance framework.