Spending Review must make care funding sustainable, say professionals

21 Sep 15

Groups representing commissioners, providers and users of adult social care have made a joint submission to the government’s Spending Review calling for support for older and disabled people to be protected.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Care and Support Alliance, the Care Provider Alliance and the NHS Confederation warned that social care sector faced “a deepening crisis”.

Fewer people were receiving state-funded care due to local authority budget constraints, they warned, which was increasing the pressure on both unpaid carers and the NHS. Additionally, people paying for their own care were paying more than those who are funded by the state, increasing the fragility of the care market and reducing quality.

Therefore, the submission said the four-year government funding plan must demonstrate the value placed on provision for disabled and older people.

ADASS president Ray James stated it was vitally important the review understood the significance of well-funded, collaborative and integrated social care service has for the NHS.

It was a “near-certainty” that without adequate and sustained finances local authorities ability to meet the duties under the Care Act to maintain a viable home and residential market would be in jeopardy, he added.

Vicky McDermott, chair of the Care and Support Alliance that represents adult social care providers, said: “Chronic underfunding of social care has seen dramatic year-on-year rationing of support for older and disabled people and their carers, excluding hundreds of thousands of people from the support they desperately need.

“Investment in care is not only the right thing to do for some of the most vulnerable in society, but also makes economic sense as it will help ease the challenges faced by the NHS and other public services.”

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added that funding for health and social care was no longer keeping pace with public demand and it was vital this doesn’t put patients at risk.

“These services desperately need a sustainable, long-term financial settlement to avoid a real crisis and to help them plan and invest as wisely as possible. We have called for that commitment from the Treasury – including appropriate funding for social care. Having a shiny NHS cog will be no good in a broken health and care machine.

“All these services are interconnected and all need greater financial certainty to build the new models of care outlined in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.”

Responding to the submission, Local Government Association community wellbeing spokeswoman Izzi Seccombe said insufficient funding, growing demand and extra cost pressures, such as the National Living Wage, means the funding gap in adult social care is growing by at least £700m a year.

“This emphasises the urgent need for adult social care funding to be put on a sustainable footing.

“Enormous pressure will be placed on vital services and providers supporting the elderly and disabled if the government fails to fully assess the impact of this funding gap and future cost burdens as part of the Spending Review,” she said.

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