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By Debbie le Quesne

The state of the nation with social care

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Whether we like it or not, we are beset with humongous financial problems in social care. It’s a fact of life for us and the problem is not going to dissipate overnight.

To sum up the ADASS budget report for 2015, John Jackson, co-chair of Resources Network, presented Adult Social Care in an Age of Austerity: the impact and some thoughts on the future John Jackson.

So much of what ADASS says in their comprehensive report is, in my opinion, a true representation of what’s happening in the care sector. I’m impressed too that publicity drives by the body have not been, to quote Mr Jackson, “shroud waving.”

The budget analytics have not been skewed to win public opinion – they are served cold, but nonetheless are still very worrying.

In a PowerPoint presentation, let me include this pane from Mr Jackson:

What do the budget surveys tell us? Impact to date?

  • Total annual savings from adult social care of £3.53bn by March 2014 – 26% of net spending
  • 12% reduction in spending combined with 14% increase in demand
  • Most of the savings are through “Efficiency savings” but significant pain involved: providers squeezed on prices; care packages reviewed and often reduced; services outsourced; providers changed

Research also shows (another PP pane):

  • Councils have protected adult social care rather than targeted it for extra savings
  • Investment in prevention stayed the same at just over £900m
  • Funding 83% of demographic pressures (£391m)
  • As a result 35% of council spending in 2014/15 now spent on adult social care compared with 30% in 2010/11
  • Including children’s social care means that almost half council spending is spent on just over 2% of the population

Remarkably, despite savage cuts, 87 per cent of councils claim quality of life for service users had not been lowered. Just 6% of local authorities said care quality had fallen. However, numbers of those supported with social care fell by 18 per cent between 2010/11 and 2012/13, with further decline in 2013/14 of 5.8%.

An input of £1.1bn from the NHS for adult social care has stopped things being worse.

As for the future?

Let’s look at this PowerPoint pane:

  • 14% councils think quality will be lower
  • 48% think that fewer people will be able to access adult social care services in two years time
  • 47% fear that people will be getting smaller personal budgets
  • 55% think providers will be facing greater financial problems
  • 59% anticipate more legal challenges (big increase from the previous year)

With the summing up of the report comes a clear warning over Government fiscal policy and its impact on care. These directors truly believe the cuts are now at their limit.

I quote: “Adult social care services in England will soon be unsustainable if current budgetary pressures continue and significant measures are not taken to inject new money into local social care economies,” – ADASS.

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