Extra funding will not prevent social care cuts

A new report has claimed that damaging cuts to UK social care will continue this year despite the government investing an extra £1 billion to halt the deterioration in services.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) research revealed that local authorities in England plan to make £824 million of savings in their social care budgets in 2017-18, taking cumulative savings in adult social care since 2010 to £6.3 billion.

However, with a reported overspend of £366 million against 2016/17 budgets, directors are finding it increasingly hard to implement planned cuts in practice. Only 31 per cent of responders to the ADASS research reported confidence that planned savings for 2017/18 will be met, falling to seven per cent in 2019/20.

Other results of the research showed that 67 per cent of directors funded their overspends last year from council reserves, while 66 per cent funded it by underspending in other council departments.

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

“This is because more older and disabled people are living longer and with increasingly complex support needs, as well as financial pressures caused by the welcome national living wage and other cost pressures, including emerging ones from the NHS such as fines for delayed transfers of care. For the first time, financial pressures due to the increasing care needs of younger adults with disabilities or mental health problems are greater than those due to supporting older people.

“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.”

Responding to the survey, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) community wellbeing board, said: “This survey shows that the £2 billion of extra funding announced in the Spring Budget, while helpful to councils in meeting some short term pressures, is not a long-term solution and still leaves councils facing a £2.3 billion funding gap by 2020.

“It also demonstrates that councils are doing all they can to protect social care budgets, but inevitably given the scale of reductions in funding they have faced since 2010, along with the growing costs and demand for social care, and with the wider pressures across local government, further savings need to be made.”

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