Social care cuts persist despite funding top up, ADASS survey finds

28 Jun 17

Extra government funding for social care does not go far enough and councils continue to have to make cuts to services, social services leaders have warned.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) today published research highlighting that the proportion of council spending on adult social care in England is set to increase by 1.3%– from 35.6% in 2016-17 to 36.9% this year.

This comes as the government announced an extra £2bn for social care over the next three years in the Spring Budget, a move “welcomed” by ADASS.

However the association warned that councils will still need to make 8% cuts in overall budgets for a second year in succession due to increasing costs and demand.

Margaret Willcox, president of ADASS, said: “Councils are determined to protect adult social services budgets as much as possible, which is reflected in their planned increase in spend on adult social care.

“The welcome £2bn in funding will help close the funding gap facing adult social care, yet councils still plan to make further savings of £824m this year which will impact on those who receive care.”

This will bring the cumulative savings in adult social care since 2010 to £6.3bn, ADASS said.

Willcox added that increased costs were being driven by improved longevity, introduction of the national living wage and rising inflation.

She said: “The opportunity to invest in prevention to reduce future demand is being hampered by the need to help those with greatest and immediate need – those who we have a statutory duty towards.

“With providers continuing to close or return contracts back to councils, more people are struggling to access the care they need and depend on. To help remedy this worrying situation, the new government needs to tackle the chronic underfunding of adult social care which still remains on a cliff edge.”

Results from today’s survey of 151 adult service directors shows that 67% funded their overspends last year from council reserves and 66% by underspending in other council departments.

The overall net budget for adult social services has risen by 8% this year to £14.2bn, from £13.1bn last year.

Despite this, less than 7% of directors feel at all optimistic about the future financial state of the local health and care economy in their own areas.

Willcox concluded: “The need for a long-term solution to establish a strong and sustainable health and care system in the most fair and affordable way has never been more urgent or vital.

“We urge the government to honour its commitment to the green paper, which is key to the solution to ensure certainty and continuity of personal, dignified care for those who need it now and those who will do so in increasing numbers in years to come.”

Richard Humphries, senior fellow at The King’s Fund, said today’s report was more evidence of the financial pressures facing the social care sector.

He called on the government’s forthcoming consultation paper on social care to “set out costed options for putting the system on a sustainable footing”.

Paul Najsarek, chief executive of the London Borough of Ealing and Solace spokesperson for community wellbeing, said: ““It’s clear from the survey that though the additional injections of funding have been welcome, this has only temporarily held the system back from tipping over the cliff edge it now faces.

"This can only be tackled by a clear, cross-party, long-term vision for the future, based on genuine public engagement.”

In the short term, the sector needs an immediate funding boost, he said.


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