Despite a welcome injection of short-term funding into the sector, adult social care across the country face care market failures, reduced investment in prevention, and the knock-on effects from NHS pressures – such as an increased focus on people delayed in hospital, and a reduction in NHS spend on continuing health care – the Association for the Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) reveals in its annual budget survey today.
Today, we highlight the increasingly fragile state of the social care system and the importance of investing in social care, which is clearly affecting the lives of thousands of older people and those with a disability – restricting choice and increasing the burden on families and friends.
Emergency funding made available by the government last year contributed to a significant and sustained reduction in delayed transfers. Social care has the ability to support people to regain independence, retain their place in communities and continue to contribute.
This month marks the 70th birthday of the NHS. It is also the 70th anniversary of the ending of the Poor Law and the introduction of the National Assistance Act. As ADASS publishes its 2018/9 Budget Survey, revealing the social care funding picture across the nation, the organisation is warning that the need for both short and long-term funding is urgent, and that without it, there will be fewer older and disabled people receiving support.
Funding for adult social care now makes up 37.8 per cent of total council budgets. This shows that councils are continuing to do their best to protect adult social care and yet despite this, social care continues to have to make savings.
ADASS is therefore urgently calling on the Government to:
- Make sure that short-term protected funding to shore up social care continues so that emergency need can be met until the Green Paper is implemented;
- Find a way to deliver long-term, adequate funding in the upcoming green paper that enables meeting people’s needs effectively is a reality, not an aspiration;
- Help councils support the care market and value the skilled staff that works within it, and putting providers on a firm financial footing
An astonishing 92 per cent of councils surveyed who increased their precepts to cover social care costs said they were doing so just to keep pace with demographic pressures. The short-term funding has not given councils confidence in their ability to meet long-term demand.
The survey has also revealed serious concerns about the impact of funding reductions on providers and the care market. 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.
Prompting further concern, a staggering 78 per cent of councils are concerned about their ability to meet the statutory duty to ensure care market stability within their existing budgets. 48 councils say they have seen home care providers closing or cease to trade within the last six months, and 44 councils had contracts handed back by providers – affecting 2,679 people in care – over that period.
Recruitment and retention remains the most significant worry. The skilled social Care workforce delivers essential care yet they are amongst the lowest paid in the economy. It’s therefore no surprise that Directors have highlighted being able to increase salaries as the most important factor in recruitment and retention.
Glen Garrod, President of ADASS, said: “As the voice of social care across the country, ADASS is determined that the upcoming green paper delivers the change that the people we care for, and our skilled and dedicated workforce, are crying out for.
“Social care is essentially about making sure we not only look after people with profound and increasingly complex needs, but also help many transform their lives. Sadly, however, this budget survey reveals, once again this essential care and support is just not being given the resources it needs.
“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.”