The Rural Services Network calls upon an incoming Government to:
- Ensure, as noted earlier, that the formula used to allocate local government finance properly takes better account of the additional cost of delivering services such as adult social care in rural areas.
- Ensure that where older people’s support services are subject to competition, new providers cannot cherry pick and simply deliver in urban centres where it is easier for them to keep costs down.
- Ensure that opportunities presented by the Care Act and Children’s & Families Act take account of rural issues, such as gaps in primary care capacity which can impact on adult social services. Extend the Better Care Fund beyond its current timescale.
- Decentralise more health services to primary care settings, to improve their rural accessibility, and offer more preventative services within GP surgeries.
- Identify and promote delivery models such as outreach provision, which take services to users. More services could be delivered to older people’s homes or nearby outlets, for example repeat prescriptions taken to village post offices.
- Support local initiatives such as Good Neighbour, Village Agent and First Contact schemes, which help older people remain in their own homes and improve their quality of life. They can also deliver valuable services, such as fire safety checks. Ensure such schemes have routes to grant funding to establish and sustain them.
- Promote a market-led approach to specialist housing development, which offers older people a choice of both market and affordable homes where they can continue to live independently. This would also release more housing for younger rural households. Enabling the development of ‘granny annexes’ or similar, would similarly help.
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