Local Healthwatch Funding Allocations and the Francis ChallengePosted: February 20, 2013
With six weeks to go until Local Healthwatch is launched….
Recommendation 146 of the Francis Report raises a challenge for Local Authorities about the funding of Local Healthwatch:
146. Finance and oversight of Local Healthwatch
Local authorities should be required to pass over the centrally provided funds allocated to its Local Healthwatch, while requiring the latter to account to it for its stewardship of the money. Transparent respect for the independence of Local Healthwatch should not be allowed to inhibit a responsible local authority – or Healthwatch England as appropriate – intervening.
There has been a bit of debate on the blogosphere about what this recommendation means exactly. It isn’t enormously clear, and in today’s difficult financial climate, it seems unlikely and unrealistic that every local authority is going to pass on a somewhat undefined and non-ringfenced budget for their Local Healthwatch programme. But that does appear to be the challenge that Francis is putting forwards.
What is your local authority spending on Local Healthwatch?
In order to work out what your local authority has been allocated for Local Healthwatch, you need two bits of information: your LINks funding plus your Local Healthwatch funding. Here’s how you work it out*:
- LINks funding will be carried forward as the baseline for local Healthwatch funding. To find this figure for your area, look at this letter and find your local area for 2010-11.
- From April 2013-April 2014, the Department of Health will also make funding available for the ‘additional functions’ of Local Healthwatch. To find this figure for your area, look at this document and do a search for your Local Authority area.
Now do your sums: add up (1) the LINk allocation plus (2) the Local Healthwatch Allocation and find your answer. This figure is the indicative funding available for Local Healthwatch in your area.
Then you can do a little sum to work out what percentage of this allocation your local authority has actually allocated to Local Healthwatch (i.e. the value of the Local Healthwatch contract).
Other funding things that might confuse you:
There are additional funding ‘pots’ that some areas may be taking into account, but don’t let these confuse you! Essentially, they are:
- the start-up funding for Local Healthwatches (an additional amount of money provided by the Department of Health which is to fund the set up of Local Healthwatch) and;
- the ICAS (Independent Complaints Advocacy Service) funding. The ICAS funding and function ceases to be commissioned nationally in April and will be commissioned locally instead. In some areas, this funding pot has been rolled into the Local Healthwatch specification and funding, but in other areas it has not. Bear this in mind when you are doing your sums.
- Healthwatch Fact Pack on Funding: Not sure who wrote this factsheet (or when they wrote it), but it’s pretty comprehensive and answers a lot of questions about Local Healthwatch Funding. (It looks like it was written for Bexley Borough Council.)
- LINks Funding Allocations (dated 10 December 2007): Look at Year 3 for the LINk allocation for your area.
- Local Government Association Healthwatch Factsheet – Funding. This contains the indicative amounts for the additional functions of Local Healthwatch.
What to do with this data:
- Do your sums and work out what your Local Authority is spending on Local Healthwatch. What percentage of their funding allocation are they spending? Does your LINk consider this to be adequate? If not, then before it packs up its typewriter, your LINk might want to think about bringing these figures to the attention of your local Scrutiny committee.
I’m not entirely sure that the above sources of funding information are up-to-date – but they are all I could find. The documents seem very slippery and the funding allocations hard to pinpoint – and obviously, they are not ringfenced. But if anyone has any more information, do let us know and I will correct or amend the above info!