East Lothian health board reject council funding offer

Thursday March 23rd 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Health board members in East Lothian have rejected a reduced council funding offer after being told it did not meet Scottish Government expectations.

This follows news last week when Midlothian Health board were urged to reject council funding cut.

Health and social care services in East Lothian are jointly funded through the board with grants from the local authority and NHS Lothian each year.

However East Lothian Integration Joint Board (IJB), which oversees the services, was told the council had, for the first time this year, decided to reduce the funding by £250,000.

Their chief finance officer Claire Flanagan told them the offer of just under £65.5million had no ‘additionality’ in it, which was not in line with the parameters set by Scottish Government.

And she said she had no choice but to ask board members to reject the offer.

She told members: “I would be doing the IJB a disservice and would not be doing by job if I did not recommend the offer is rejected.”

A virtual meeting of the board which is made up of elected councillors and NHS Lothian and health representatives, heard the council faced huge financial pressure in the year ahead and had cut funding to services across the board.

Councillor Lyn Jardine told board members: “There has been pain across the board and the burden has been shared in terms of the council’s financial situation .”

Councillor Shamin Akhtar, board member and deputy leader of East Lothian Council, pointed out the local authority had stepped up in the past to support the IJB when it was struggling financially as she urged fellow board members not to follow the recommendations of their chief finance officer.

However the chairperson of the IJB Peter Murray reminded members that they were there to represent the board and make decision which are best for it.

He said: “The support the IJB has received from the council over the years is not in dispute, however to put the offer in context we have to acknowledge our responsibilities we are responsible for and each member will have to make a decision on their responsibility to this board.”

The board voted by four members to three to accept the recommendation not to accept the funding offer by the council with all three elected councillors voting against the decision.

Members were told the decision would mean finance officers would go back to the council for further talks with an update expected to be brought back to the board next month.

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