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County directors warn over social care budgets

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Less than a handful of county council adult social care directors say current funding levels are manageable, a survey has found.

A report pubished today by the County Council’s Network today said 22 of the 25 directors the responded to the survey consider their current budgets “critical” or “severe” due to the implementation of the national living wage, rising costs of care, demographic growth and insufficient government funding.

The report, Delivering Adult Social Care in Challenging Times, found counties were planning to spend an average of £1,306 per capita this year on adult social care, compared to £2,204 spent in London.

It said this was due to CCN member councils experiencing the sharpest decline in government funding through the revenue support grant during this parliament, with a 93% reduction.

Paul Carter

Paul Carter

Paul Carter

This compares to reductions of 71% in London boroughs, 69% in metropolitan councils and 82% in other unitaries. The figures do not take account of income from other sources such as council tax and business rates. 

One in five directors believe sustainability and transformation plans will not help maintain services, citing insufficient funding and “conflicting” targets between local government and NHS bodies as impediments to health and social care integration.

The CCN is calling on the government to reform NHS incentives to shift funding received by providers away from rewarding patient contact to promoting prevention, early intervention and integration.

CCN has written to the chancellor and health secretary to request that at least £700m of the £1.5bn better care fund planned for the end of this parliament is brought forward to next year in the autumn statement later this month.

The letter from CCN chairman Paul Carter (Con) called for the government to work with counties to find a “sensible and sustainable” solution.

It added: “I fear the impact on frontline social care services in counties will be terminal. This will potentially leave some of the most vulnerable people in our society without the care and support they need to maintain their independence and dignity.”

CCN’s spokesman for health and social care Colin Noble (Con) said the report’s findings were a “stark summary” of the current situation.

He added: “The scale of the financial challenge ahead is evidenced in the fact that many councils will struggle to deliver a balanced budget by the end of this parliament.

“This should not be mistaken as financial mismanagement; county authorities are contending with an impossible situation of seeing budgets reduce at a quicker pace than other councils, while coping with the biggest and fastest growing elderly population.”

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