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18 July 2013

New preventative approach needed to sustain vital public services

This is the message from the Community Housing Cymru Group today as they host a Health and Housing Conference in Cardiff.

Nick Bennett, Group Chief Executive, will tell delegates: 'Welsh revenue budgets are going down, but the demands for health and care are going up. We believe that protecting the health budget but not investing in housing and the preventative agenda is counter-productive and will shunt costs onto the NHS.'

The Group is calling on the Welsh Government to develop a new preventative approach to health, to reduce the impact on the NHS in order to sustain vital public services with housing playing a key role.

Welsh housing associations have recently received a letter from Welsh Government highlighting the revenue budget cut and the impact on supporting people. The letter asked them to ‘consider very carefully the commissioning of new services, particularly in those areas that are anticipating an increase in funding.’

Nick added: 'It would be a false economy to completely protect health and cut the supporting people budget. Research has shown that every £1 spent on Supporting People saves money by deferring or preventing more costly interventions later down the line, saving up to £2 for every £1 spent.

Our sector is already helping older and vulnerable people live healthier, more independent lives and cutting revenue budgets which actually save money to vital public services will have a devastating effect on those who need it most. Services can include simple adaptations like handrails and ramps, hospital discharge projects, sheltered housing, extra care or combined support and accommodation packages for older people, people with mental health problems, adults with learning disabilities or people living with dementia.'

Chris Jones, Chief Executive of Care & Repair Cymru agrees: 'We believe that services such as those delivered by Care & Repair that help older people to remain independent in their own homes should be protected. Our services reduce accidents, falls and chronic illness to older people, and contribute to reducing unscheduled care, fewer admissions to A&E and speeding up safe hospital discharge. Helping older people stay independent at home also means that fewer need places in residential care homes. All of this reduces demand and saves money for the Welsh NHS and Social Services”

Helen Birtwhistle, Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation will also be addressing delegates. She added: 'Rising demand and limited resources mean that the reorganisation of services is essential if NHS Wales is to remain sustainable and continue to provide safe, effective and compassionate care.

More people being well supported in their own homes is something that is an important part of service change. With health and housing working together in new and innovative ways, it could mean an improvement in the health and wellbeing of a large number of people in Wales as well as delivering value for money from joint initiatives.'

The Healthy Homes, Healthy Lives Good Practice Guide is a sample of the work being undertaken across the seven Local Health Boards in Wales which highlights the results that can be achieved through innovation, partnership working and cross-sector collaboration. The good practice guide is being launched at today's Health & Housing Conference.

For activity relating to Health & Housing Week, follow @CHCymru, @CRCymru @CymorthCymru and @WelshConfed on Twitter or use the the #hhw13 hashtag.