Councils to overspend social care budgets

A new survey has shown that over half of UK councils expect to overspend their adult social care budgets this year by up to nearly £21 million each.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) poll, published during the National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC), also revealed that local authorities are likely to have to help pay a potential adult social care bill of nearly £270 million to fund six years of backpay for sleep-in shifts.

The survey found that the average cost to pay for six years of backpay for sleep-in shifts is £1.78 million, which, if applied to the 151 councils in England providing adult social care, would amount to £269 million. Worryingly, 53 per cent of directors forecast an overspend on adult social care budgets this financial year.

Other findings showed that 67 per cent of councils reported provider closures in the first five months of the financial year, and that 48 per cent of councils reported homecare providers handing back contracts. Only 52 per cent of councils believe their agreed delayed transfer of care targets are realistic for both social care and the NHS.

Margaret Willcox, ADASS president, said: “Our latest survey findings should act as a fresh wake-up call to government that adult social care is coming perilously close to becoming unsustainable. The extra £2 billion in funding, while welcome, is simply a short-term fix and cannot hide the fact that by the end of this financial year, £6 billion has been cut from councils’ adult social care budgets since 2010 - with demand for our services growing all that time. This is simply unacceptable and needs to be addressed, not only in the Autumn Budget, but also in the promised consultation on the future of adult social care, because we cannot continue without sufficient and sustainable resources.

“Our latest survey makes this clear and paints a bleak picture. More than half of councils are already forecasting an overspend in adult social care budgets for this financial year and their top two concerns are both funding-related. Dedicated care workers deserve recognition and reward, but the Government needs to fully fund historic back-pay for care workers who have done sleep-in shifts or this could severely impact on the care of thousands of older and disabled people. Councils continue to prioritise delayed transfers of care, but the idea of imposing further sanctions on already cash-strapped councils seems frankly bizarre.”

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