Adult social care services close to collapsing

Despite the provision of extra government funding, senior council officials have warned that adult social care services in England are on the brink of collapse in some regions.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Service’s annual budget survey has revealed that councils expect to spend £21.4 billion this year in England. The survey highlights the ‘increasingly fragile state of the social care system’ in which care market failures, reduced investment in prevention, and the knock-on effects from NHS pressures are leaving the system close to collapsing.

Funding for adult social care now makes up 37.8 per cent of total council budgets, with 92 per cent of councils surveyed having increased their precepts to cover social care costs, with many doing so ‘just to keep pace with demographic pressures’. ADASS has warned that this short-term funding has not given councils confidence in their ability to meet long-term demand.

Furthermore, the release shows that three quarters of councils believe that providers will experience financial difficulties over the next year, with two thirds concerned that those pressures could impact on the quality of care over that period and directly affect thousands of people who need those services. Worryingly, 78 per cent of councils are concerned about their ability to meet the statutory duty to ensure care market stability within their existing budgets.

Council leaders have also stressed that 48 councils have seen home care providers closing or ceasing to trade within the last six months, and 44 councils had contracts handed back by providers, affecting 2,679 people in care, over the same period.

Glen Garrod, president of ADASS, said: “It is of serious concern that we have such a fragile social care market, where 48 councils across the country have seen care providers close or cease to trade in the last six months – this means that people do not have the choice over the care that they should have and the potential to transform lives is being lost. It’s also worrying that despite social care’s contributions to reducing pressures on hospitals, NHS pressures continue to have serious impacts on the provision of social care.

“There is an undeniable, urgent and imperative requirement on the government to act to ensure interim funding continues until the green paper is implemented, that the social care workforces receives the wages and esteem it deserves, that the care market is safeguarded, and that the long-term funding solution that social care desperately needs is finally delivered. We cannot go on like this. How we help people live the life they want, how we care and support people in our families and communities, and how we ensure carers get the support they need is at stake – it’s time for us to deliver the secure future that so very many people in need of social care urgently need.”

Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, added: “This report is further compelling evidence of the irrefutable crisis in adult social care funding which cannot be ignored. The fact that nearly 40 per cent of councils’ overall budgets are now spent on adult social care shows that local government is striving to protect this vital service. But despite these efforts, the combination of historic funding reductions, rising demand and increasing cost pressures mean many councils continue to have to make significant savings and reductions within adult social care services to balance their overall budgets.

“Government needs to address immediate pressures impacting on the system today and plug the funding gap facing adult social care, which is set to exceed £2 billion by 2020, and ensure its Green Paper will deliver reforms to future-proof the long term sustainability of adult social care. As excitement builds towards the NHS’ 70th birthday, and the reported increase in funding for our health service, this survey is a powerful reminder that the financial needs of our care and support system are just as great as, if not greater than, those facing the NHS.”

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