An emergency cash injection of £1bn is needed immediately to stabilise the social care system and enable councils to meet their statutory duties to vulnerable people, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has warned.
In a budget submission published today, Adass accused the government of overstating the financial impact of recent measures aimed at reducing service pressures, including allowing councils to raise the care precept by 3% in the next two years and redirecting £241m new homes bonus funding to social care.
The Local Government Association, the King’s Fund, and Nuffield Trust, estimate more than £1bn is needed to fund adult social care next year but Adass said the local government finance settlement fell short. A lack of further funding would increase the numbers of people who would no longer receive the “care and support they need to survive each day”, Adass said.
The submission said the government should plug the gap with funding distributed on a needs-based formula to address the shortfall in budgets and stabilise the “sufficiency and quality” of a care market “at increasing risk of collapse”.
Adass said the closure of care homes and a growing trend of providers withdrawing from contracts in the last year had affected 10,820 people using services provided by 129 councils.
Market failure in some parts of the country could be the “first domino to topple the system”, warned Adass, particularly as there are more beds in care homes and more staff working in social care than in the NHS.
The submission said 97% of adult services directors surveyed at the turn of the year believed government measures, such as giving councils the option of raising the social care precept to 3% and redirecting new homes bonus funding to social care for one year, would have little or no impact on funding pressures.
As well as the call for a £1bn cash injection, Adass said the government should ensure social care funding was sustainable up to 2020 and assist with the recruitment and retention of staff.
Adass president elect Margaret Willcox called on government to treat social care as a “national priority”. Without £1bn emergency assistance there will be ”increasing delays in the NHS, and even more care homes closing and growing gaps and failures in the care market,” she said.
The warning from Adass follows the LGA’s budget submission published yesterday which said social care underfunding was making it “impossible” for councils to meet legal duties to vulnerable people under the Care Act.
Adass said a cumulative total of £5.5bn would have been cut since 2010 from council social care budgets by the end of this financial year. Its budget survey last year reported projected council overspends of £441m in 2016-17, compared to £168m in 2015-16.