Health and Social Care Bill

Memorandum submitted by East Riding of Yorkshire Local Involvement Network (HS 67)

HEALTHWATCH

East Riding of Yorkshire LINk ( Local Involvement Network) was set up under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act, 2007. It is proposed under the current bill that the LINk becomes Local Healthwatch.

Summary – For independence, credibility and capacity, Local Healthwatch must not be funded through local authorities

1. Funding: the current funding stream comes from the D of H to the local authority. To date, this has been an identifiable sum, dedicated (though not ring-fenced) for the purpose of supporting/enabling the Local Involvement Network (LINk) and paid through the Area Based Grant. This system comes to an end in March this year, 2011.

2. Even without the current funding squeeze on local authorities, the LINk has never received the full sum allocated for it. Every year, 08 – 09, 09 – 10, 10 – 11, the East Riding of Yorks LINk (ERYLINk) has had about £50k diverted by the LA to other purposes. To date, nearly £3m of LINks’ monies has been siphoned off by English LAs.

3. This year, we are told by the LA that they are cutting our funding by 20%, that 20% to be used by them for other purposes. Already, neighbouring LINks have suffered swingeing cuts – Hull LINk budget cut by 69%, North Yorks LINk budget cut by 50%.

4. The lesson is stark. LAs are poor custodians of LINks’ funding. Healthwatch will have wider and more responsibilities (advocacy etc) and will under current proposals be similarly reliant on the LAs for its funding.

5. Independence: the independence of LINks/Healthwatch is seriously compromised. Being reliant upon the LA for funds, Healthwatch cannot freely monitor social care services as the LA is itself the provider. The LA hold the purse strings, a financial choke-chain against independent monitoring, and have shown themselves very ready to tighten this chain, even before the current extreme financial situation.

6 . Local Healthwatch must be funded through Healthwatch England.

February 2011