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Social care funding position is a 'growing cause for concern' warns ADSS ...
Social care funding position is a 'growing cause for concern' warns ADSS

The current 'hand to mouth' attitudes to financing care for older

people, and other vulnerable groups, is a cause of growing concern

according to the Association of Directors of Social Services, following

the publication of one of the most comprehensive surveys of social

services finances ever undertaken (see LGCnet).

The survey, undertaken alongside the LGA and

the Societies of County and Municipal Treasurers, confirms the near-£200m

overspend predicted earlier this year, and shows that local

authorities are stepping in and covering the government shortfall with

monies raised from the council tax.

According to ADSS president Moira Gibb: 'Forcing social care managers

and staff to make do and mend in this way is no substitute for a

carefully thought out policy on the funding of social care.

'Directors of social service recognise and welcome central government's

response to some of the financial pressures which have been building up

within the care system - particularly for older people.' But she added

that government support has come nowhere near meeting the strains

inflicted on social services departments by:

- Rising levels of need in the community

- Rising levels of demand

- Rising costs in the residential and nursing homes markets

- The increasing number of unresourced statutory duties being laid on

local government's shoulders

Mrs Gibb added: 'Directors throughout the country are reporting

increased concerns about the current state of the employment market and

our ability to recruit and retain care workers. The growing shortages of

places for older people in residential and nursing homes is leading to

spiralling increases in costs.

'Local government is `getting by' in social care by budgeting to spend

above the level the government believes we should be spending at the

standard spending assessment - overall to the tune of some£1bn.

This is being accompanied by restricting services to the most needy. The

pressures, however, on users, carers and staff alike are considerable.'

The joint budget survey shows an increased use of short term, non

recurrent funding, and specific grants, encouraging a 'patch and mend'

approach to problems, in particular those which ensure safe and speedy

discharge of people from hospitals.

According to Brian Parrott, ADSS resource committee chair: 'They breed

reactive, short term responses, rather than longer term proactive

strategies based on secure funding.

'Social care needs secure, consistent, higher levels of funding to

support a more strategic approach to promoting independence, while

supporting the most vulnerable people. The 'patch and mend' approach to

these pressures, together with the underlying underfunding particularly

in children's services, is a very real and growing cause for concern.

It is, however, evident across a very significant number of local

authorities, regardless of region or type of authority.'

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