Cash crisis threatens provision of care

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The elderly and mentally ill face widespread cuts in care provision next year as local authorities struggle to meet the demands of the Care in the Community policy, an independent Government watchdog warned yesterday.

A report from the Audit Commission says that many authorities are running short of funds in the face of increasing demand, less cash than they expected from the Government and local decisions to allocate fewer funds to social services.

David Browning, associate director of health and social service studies at the Audit Commission, said: "Local authorities have to predict demand and square their budgets with tighter, more careful, management. This means tightening the eligibility criteria and being more careful about the amount of service they give to each person and who they give it to."

The Independent last month revealed that 29 local authorities expect to run out of money before the end of the financial year. They estimate that funding for residential and nursing homes is more than £220m underfunded.

n Taking Stock: Progress with Community Care; Audit Commission; HMSO; £6.

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