Social care funding cut by a third since 2010, ADASS survey finds

4 Jun 15

Local authority funding for social care services fell by nearly one-third over the last parliament, an analysis by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has found.

The association’s annual budget survey revealed that local government social care funding will fall to £13.3bn in 2015/16, a reduction of £500m in cash terms compared from 2014/15, but a £1.1bn real terms cut once growth in demand was taken into account.

ADASS president Ray James said the reduction meant there would be fewer hours of vital home care or fewer people receiving funding for residential care and put at risk the ability of social care services to provide for those in greatest need. “In virtually all our authorities, the number in need is growing, while the complexity of their needs is increasing,” he said.

Although councils had attempted to prioritise adult social care funding – which now accounted for 35% of spending in the 155 local authorities in England with adult social care responsibility – further cuts would become more difficult, he added.

In total over the last five years, there have been cuts of £4.6bn, representing a 31% real terms cut.

Jones called on the government to recognise “the jeopardy so many of our citizens are being placed in by the continuing reductions being made to local government spending”.

It would be “folly” for the government to continue protecting NHS budgets while social care budgets were being cut due to the “widely-acknowledged significance of the link between the two”, he added.

“Health funding has rightly been increased from £97.5bn in 2010/11 to £116.4bn in 2015/16, an increase of 19.3%, while over the same period, social care funding has decreased from £14.9bn to £13.3bn, a reduction of 10.7% – and more in real terms when demography is taken into account.”

Izzi Seccombe, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said the report highlighted the enormous pressures facing adult social care and the need to put funding on a sustainable footing.

“Local authorities have sought to protect services for our most vulnerable people as far as possible, often at the expense of other services, and will continue to prioritise those most in need.

“However, the necessity for further budget savings worth £1.1bn combined with other pressures of insufficient funding, growing demand and escalating costs mean that despite councils’ best efforts they are having to make tough decisions about the care services they can provide. This cannot continue.”

Richard Humphries, assistant director of policy at the King’s Fund, said that despite the best efforts of local authorities, a sixth consecutive year of budget cuts will mean further reductions in services and fewer people receiving support.

“It defies demography that councils will spend £1bn less this year on essential services that more of us will need.

“Social care is now at a crossroads. It is at risk of becoming a residual service, available only to those with the lowest incomes and highest needs, leaving thousands of people and their families struggling to meet the costs of care.”

Andrew Burns, president of the Society of County Treasurers and director of finance and resources at Staffordshire County Council, said the forthcoming Spending Review needed to increase funding for adult social care.

“In upper tier councils adult social care accounts for about 35% of spend. It sits alongside other critical budgets for child protection and children’s services, highways maintenance and waste disposal are also under significant pressure as population rises,” he stated.

“Capacity to develop new models of care, which might be more cost effective is also affected by welfare reform and access to housing. Inadequate council funding overall will necessitate further reductions in all services and it is not possible to protect services that form such a significant proportion of total spend.”

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