When we asked local Healthwatch about their funding arrangements for 2015/16, we found that:
- Two thirds of local Healthwatch will maintain or receive an increase in funding.
- There will be a total reduction of £1.4m (4%) affecting 27% of local Healthwatch in 2015-16, although £0.2m of this is related to additional funding for set up costs in 2014-15.
- Of those local Healthwatch facing reductions, the average reduction being experienced is £33,782 (13.1%) but ranges up to 53%.
While the reasons for funding reductions are often not clear, the most significant funding reductions include those in areas where health and care budgets and services are under pressure including eight local Healthwatch working in challenged health economies, and 11 local Healthwatch working with Trusts in or recently in special measures.
We are concerned that in certain areas health and social consumers could be left without a strong voice. We have written to a number of councils where significant reductions in local Healthwatch funding have been reported.