Inspect stretched councils to avert care failures, charities urge

8 Oct 18

The government must inspect financially struggling councils to ensure they are fulfilling their social care duties, an umbrella group for disability charities has urged.

Councils are expected to make £700m of adult social care savings in 2018-19, the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group highlighted in a report out today, citing Association of Directors of Adult Services figures.

Because of an ageing and growing population “there will be increasing numbers of people who will require support with their mental health, physical disability, or learning and social impairments”, the report A Stitch In Time stated.

VODG highlighted government figures showing there were 11.5 million disabled people living in England – 21% of the population – at the moment, and said this figure was expected to rise to 12.2 million by 2025.

The government must “ensure that where local councils are in serious financial difficulties, such as Northamptonshire, appropriate central government inspection is applied to ensure that statutory duties in relation to social care are actually being fully met in line with the responsibilities and duties set out in the Care Act 2014”, the charity said.

Northamptonshire has been forced to take unprecedented action this year and issue two section 114 notices, meaning it is effectively bankrupt.

The charity also called for the government to come up with a long term and sustainable funding solution for adult social care.

Voluntary and not-for-profit providers gave one fifth of the support for disabled people who rely on state support, the charity said.

“Without adequate public funding for their services nor a long term sustainable funding plan, voluntary sector providers, and the care and support they provide to disabled adults,

are increasingly at threat.”

The report highlighted that, as local authorities were unable to pay adult social care providers adequately, contracts were being handed back. Quoting ADASS figures again, the charity said 66% of councils experienced some kind of provider failure in the six months to March 2018.

The charity said Brexit made a sustainable funding plan for social care “all the more urgent” because a negative impact on the economy was likely to reduce public money available for social care. It was also concerned that – as 8% (104,000) of adult social care jobs in England were filled by EU workers –  there could be “instability in the social care market” after March next year.

Ian Hudspeth, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “With people living longer, increases in costs and decreases in funding, adult social care is at breaking point.

“Over recent years, councils have protected adult social care relative to other services. But the scale of the overall funding picture for local government as a whole means adult social care services still face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care.”

The LGA launched its own social care green paper in July after the government’s own green paper was delayed. The government’s social care green paper is expected to be released this autumn along with the NHS plan on how it intends to use an extra £20bn annually over 10 years.  

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