£150m home care boost for elderly patients
Ministers have allocated an extra £150m for patients to get care at home after warnings that local authority cuts were creating a "crisis" in social care.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the cash for England has been found from efficiency savings in his budget.
Another £20m will also be directed to the disabled facilities grant to help people live independently at home.
Last week the charity Age UK warned that cuts could leave older people with "absolutely no support at all".
Mr Lansley said: "Older people often need particular support after a spell in hospital to settle back into their homes, recover their strength and regain their independence.
"This money will enable the NHS and social care to work better together for the benefit of patients."
Meanwhile, the King's Fund think-tank has warned that older people were unnecessarily taking up hospital beds, threatening NHS efficiency savings targets.
It urged the NHS to cut the number who arrived as emergency cases but stayed for more than two weeks - even after they had recovered - because "fragmented" care arrangements did not offer them the support they needed to be discharged.'Stealth tax'
The government has already set aside £648m for primary care trusts to support social care services in 2011-12.
The Local Government Association's community wellbeing board welcomed the extra money which it said was recognition that the current system was under-funded.
Chairman David Rogers said: "For those entitled to taxpayer-funded care and support, councils are having to balance the long-term triple pressures of insufficient funding, growing demand and escalating costs.
"Alongside that are the ever-growing numbers of people who must pay the costs themselves, but still need information and advice to help them make the most appropriate choices."
Shadow health minister Liz Kendall has called recent increases in home care charges for older and disabled people "a stealth tax on the most vulnerable in society".
She said last week: "The government is out-of-touch with the growing crisis in care.
"Their brutal cuts to funding for local council services are pushing up charges and placing an even greater burden on the people who most need help."