Social care heads unsure they can provide minimum services

26 Jun 19

Just over a third of adult social care directors in England think they have the funds to meet statutory duties this financial year, a damning survey has revealed.

Thirty-five per cent (53 directors) felt confident they could provide the minimum levels of services in 2019-20, according to the ADASS Budget Survey out today.

Less than 5% of 150 adult social directors surveyed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services were “fully confident” that they could provide the minimum level of services as required by law until 2021-22.

The group lamented the delay of the long-awaited social care green paper and said that this must be used to set out a long-term funding plan for the sector. The green paper has now been delayed six times.

ADASS found that just 50 directors (33%) believed that required savings of £700m will be met in 2019-20 while 65% were partially confident. The £700m, which was identified in last year’s survey, takes total cumulative savings to £7.7bn since 2010.

Just 15 (10%) of the directors who responded said they felt optimistic about the financial state of the wider health and social care economy over the next 12 months.

Julie Ogley, president of ADASS, said: “We are still desperately lacking the sustainable, long-term funding needed to provide vital services that will support people to live as independently and healthily as possible.

“Too many older and disabled people and their families still struggle without getting the help they need. Social workers, managers and councillors are having to make incredibly difficult decisions based on dwindling resources, which should not be allowed to happen in a modern, compassionate society.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £410m for adult and children’s social care in his autumn Budget but Ogley warned that this pattern of one-off funding cannot continue.

The umbrella group highlighted a lack of certainty about continued government funding for adult social care from April 2020 onwards, when the Better Care Fund runs out.

Demand is increasing for adult social care services, including from working age adults. Thirty-nine per cent of respondents in the survey stated the biggest demand for adult social care was from working age adults – compared to 17% in 2017-18.

This increased demand is reflected in councils’ budgets, as their spend on social care has jumped from 34% in 2010-11 to 38% in 2019-20.

Reaction

Sally Warren, director of policy at the King’s Fund, said: “Budget pressures combined with rising disability amongst working-age adults and a growth in the number of people over 65 have left adult social care services in England at crisis point.

“Despite the best efforts of local authorities and care providers to protect services, the social care system is no longer fit for purpose and is failing the people who use it, their families and carers.”

Nick Ville, director of membership and policy at the NHS Confederation, said: “The pessimism felt by directors of adults social services is mirrored in the views of health leaders – there is little hope among either that this challenge will be met any time soon.”

David Williams, County Councils Network spokesman for health and social care, and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The ADASS budget survey reveals that 38% of the average council’s budget is spent on adult social care. However, for county authorities this figure is 47% - meaning that those authorities are spending close to half their yearly budgets on just social care, leaving counties with even less room to manoeuvre when making tough decisions.”

Miriam Deakin, director of policy strategy at NHS Providers, said: “The NHS and social care are two sides of the same coin. So this will also have significant impact on the NHS, as more people seek urgent and emergency care or end up staying in hospitals longer than they need to.”

Charles Tallack, assistant director of the health and social care sustainability research centre at the Health Foundation, said: “Today’s survey shows that this concern is clearly shared by directors of adult social services who have identified pay as the biggest driver of costs for care providers.

“The time has come to ensure that we have a social care system that is as much a source of national pride as the NHS.”

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