The Coalition Government has caved into pressure from HIV organisations to protect the social care needs of people living with HIV in its Spending Review of local authority grants, it was announced today.
Overall Aids support within the local authority grant will increase in England to £36.2 million for 2014-15 , up 10.7 million compared to this year. However, the ring-fence that used to protect this cash has not reinstated and the money could be at risk from cash strapped councils with greater powers.
The decision comes after months of campaigning led by National AIDS Trust (NAT) and HIV organisations across the country: who wrote hundreds of letters highlighting the importance of retaining the funding as an identifiable amount within local authority budgets.
Deborah Jack, CEO of NAT, said: “NAT is extremely pleased to see a commitment from the Government to increase funding for HIV social care following our recent campaign.
“This commitment shows an acknowledgment of the importance of funding these services, and recognition that the rising numbers and ageing population of people living with HIV will result in both continuing and increasing social care needs within this group.”
The Coalition’s Comprehensive Spending Review in October saw local authorities loose on average 7.25 per cent of their budgets. But in a controversial trade-off received new financial freedoms and flexibility.
“We remain concerned that with the removal of the ring-fence around this funding and the increased emphasis on local flexibility, there is a risk that HIV social care funds could be spent elsewhere.
“NAT encourages all local authorities to ensure the needs of people living with HIV in every area are met, and this means using the funding committed to HIV social care to provide the services necessary.” added NAT’s Jack.