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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Adass warn funding fragile social care system is 'undeniable, urgent and imperative'

Written by David Wilcock

Adult social care is increasingly fragile and requires more short-term Government funding to tide it over until reform measures are introduced, a report warns.

Despite a £2.3 billion boost this year the sector remains at risk from market failures, reduced investment in prevention and the continuing knock-on from the NHS drive to free up beds, the Association for the Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) said.

In its annual budget survey it warned that there was a real danger some councils will be unable to meet their care obligations before long-term solutions are in place.

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in March that a Green Paper on the Government's plans would be published in the summer, with one of its key principles being a sustainable funding model.

Forty eight councils, almost a third of the 152 authorities in England, reported that care homes had closed or stopped trading in the last six months, affecting 3,290 people, the survey found.

In 44 local authorities contracts were also handed back by providers in the same period, affecting 2,679 people.

Adass president Glen Garrod (pictured) 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 workforce 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."

In its annual budget survey, released on Tuesday, Adass warns that adult care will account for almost 38% of council budgets in 2018/2019, up from 34% in 2010/2011.

The Government had provided extra cash, with an extra £2.3 billion in the 2017/2018 financial year, reduced to £1 billion in 2018/2019 and £0.35 billion in 2019/2020.

The more-than 50% reduction next year could cause serious problems, the survey warned.

Morew than three quarters of councils (78%) are concerned about their ability to meet the statutory duty to ensure care market stability within their existing budgets, it noted.

Some 83% of respondents to the survey believed that the National Living Wage - £7.83 per hour for workers aged 25 and over - was the biggest factor increasing costs in the industry.

David Williams, the County Councils Network spokesman for health and social care and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: "Council leaders share the concerns of directors that the situation is worsening and, without further assistance from government, more vulnerable older and disabled residents with complex needs will not get receive sufficient levels of care.

"With counties facing the largest growth in elderly populations, receiving the lowest funding per head and staring down a £1 billion funding black hole by 2021, it is unsurprising that confidence in delivering necessary savings to budgets is low.

Richard Murray, director of policy at The King's Fund, added: "'This latest evidence, from every council in England, lays bare once again the need for, as the Prime Minister put it herself, a proper plan to pay for and provide social care.

"Older and disabled people and their families and carers continue to be let down by a system that is on its knees."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Adass.