LGA and ADASS unite in call for sustainable social care funding

12 Oct 15

Urgent steps must be taken to plug the funding gap in adult social care if councils are to continue to provide dignified care for elderly and disabled people, senior local government figures warned today.

In a joint submission to the government’s Spending Review, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services estimate that “burgeoning” funding gap is growing by £700m a year, reaching £2.9bn by 2019/20. Using money previously earmarked for the delayed Care Act would help, but would still leave a funding gap of around £1.7bn by the end of the decade.

Izzi Seccombe, the LGA’s community wellbeing spokeswoman, said that the pumping of money into the NHS but not into social care had to stop.

“NHS money will not pay for the essential visits from carers that help people to get dressed or washed or the night time call to help someone into bed. It is these services that enable people to live with dignity in the community for longer instead of being forced unnecessarily into hospital beds – at a cost to the NHS and the public purse.”

She said continued funding pressures were putting the social care and health system at serious jeopardy.

“Social care is in crisis ... At the moment, social care and health have a shared ambition, but not a share of the money which is needed to achieve this. It simply doesn't add up and the Spending Review is the government's opportunity to address this.”

Ray James, president at ADASS, added that a fair and sustainable funding settlement was needed.

“Everybody accepts that more people are living longer, often with more complex needs. The welcome announcement of the living wage will inevitably increase the cost of care. Adult social care budgets have been cut by 31% in real terms over the last five years. Ninety-nine per cent of NHS managers surveyed already report the impact of cuts to social care on frontline NHS services. For the first year in living memory more care home beds have closed than opened.”

ADASS and the LGA are calling on the government to fund all “additional pressures”, including the Deprivation of Liberty safeguards (DoLS) and the new National Living Wage, as well as to a allocate £2bn year each to help the system move in a more preventive direction.

Whitehall should also facilitate greater pooling of budgets between health and social care through the Better Care Fund, they said.

Commenting on the warning today, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Because money is tight, councils tend to let their care contracts to the firm who puts in the lowest price. When this happens the only people who lose out are the elderly person needing the care, and the worker desperately trying, against all the odds, to provide care with dignity.

“Ministers clearly have it in their gift to come up with the cash that could lessen the growing pressures on both social care and the NHS. But councils too must step up and make sure that, despite these tough times, they are not expecting quality care to be provided at bargain basement prices.”

  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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