The Department of Health (DH) has recently issued a consultation on options for distributing three social care grants: learning disability commissioning transfer, preserved rights and aids support, in each case from 1 April 2011. Responses are requested by email by 5pm on 6 October 2010. The Government will make its response available by the end of 2010.

Although the consultation does not prejudge the outcome of the spending review, which will consider whether these grants should continue in their current form or whether they should be brought into formula grant, the DH is considering changes to the way the grants are calculated.

The consultation paper provides useful summaries of the history of both the Learning Disability Commissioning Transfer and Preserved Rights Grants and is worth a read for this alone.

The DH is also asking PCTs to check the data it has used as the basis of its calculations, ie locally reported learning disability commissioning transfers between PCTs and local authorities; and preserved rights caseload data reported in the 2009 survey.

In each case the DH proposes two options, one of which uses an appropriate relative need formulae (RNF) to allocate the grant. However, in the case of each of these grants, the RNF option has been rejected and the alternative stated as the preferred option.

This preference is based on the finding that for some local authorities moving to a formula based grant allocation would produce allocations which are radically different from the current pattern of caseload and costs and would cause very large changes in the grant received. In addition, the RNF option would not reflect the local authorities’ actual responsibilities for younger adults with learning disabilities, the cost of providing services to particular individuals with preserved rights or where people with HIV/AIDS currently live and the costs of services for them.

Having already reached that conclusion, the main purpose of the consultation seems to be to get PCTs to check their figures again.