Social care budget survey concludes funding gap is getting wider

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has concluded that an additional £1.1 billion is needed this year to maintain services for the UK’s rising numbers of older and disabled people requiring essential care and support.

There are more people in need of care, and their care needs are increasingly complex. At the same time the rise in salaries triggered by the introduction of the National Living Wage, is causing costs to rise far faster than income for the sector.

The new social care precept, which has been added to council taxes in 93% of local authorities, will raise an additional £380 million.

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The ADASS budget survey, which received reports from 151 local authority social care directors, calculates that the social care precept this year raises less than two-thirds of the calculated costs of the National Living Wage. So this year Directors of Adult Social Services have to find more savings of £941m, equating to 7% of the total net budget.

The funding squeeze will inevitably impact services, the survey says. “At least 24% of this year’s savings will come from cutting services or reducing the personal budgets of people who receive care and support,” it predicts.

The quality of care is also compromised, ADASS suggests. “82% of Directors report that more providers already face quality challenges as a result of the savings being made. As of June 2016, CQC inspections under the new regime show that 27% of adult social care services Require Improvement and 2% are Inadequate,” the report states.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said funding will increase over time, with councils using the precept to increase local taxes by 2% each year of this parliament.

“We know that protecting services while delivering the necessary efficiencies is challenging which is why we are working with local government to support councils to make savings,” she added.

Care England, an association that represents the interests of care home operators, says that the increase in funding from the precept is too little too late.

“The social care precept delivered in the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review has raised less than two thirds of the calculated costs of the National Living Wage. Its implementation is patchy around the country and it is abundantly clear that the investment in social care is not there.  This in turn impacts on the millions of people needing care and support; furthermore it has a knock on effect on the efficacy of the NHS,” said Professor Martin Green, the association’s chief executive.

ADASS directors are seeing fees paid by local authorities rising as care providers grapple with the rising cost of salaries.

“82% of councils increased fees to providers: nearly a quarter by more than 5%. Though the National Living Wage is welcome, in many areas providers will continue to struggle to recruit staff, especially in home care and where employment is high. Maintaining a caring, compassionate and trained workforce in a sustainable provider market is an urgent concern. 80% of Directors reported that providers in their area are facing financial difficulties now. Providers are increasingly selling up, closing homes or handing back the contract for the care they deliver to older or disabled people. This affected thousands of people across the country last year,” the report concludes.



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