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12.10.15

Only way to close social care funding gap is to use Care Act cash plus savings – LGA and ADASS

The “funding gap” in adult social care must be plugged with cash earmarked for the delayed Care Act and spending reductions in other departments, the LGA and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have said today (12 October).

In a joint submission to the government’s Spending Review, the two bodies have reiterated that “urgent steps” must be taken to close the “burgeoning” social care funding gap, estimated to reach almost £3bn by 2019-20.

They claimed that using money previously reserved for delayed Care Act proposals would help, but would still leave the sector starved of nearly £2bn by the end of the decade.

To help this, they suggested plugging the remaining gap with savings from other government departments.

The bodies have also called on the government to fund all “additional pressures”, including the Deprivation of Liberty safeguards (DoLS) and the new National Living Wage, as well as to a allocate £2bn year each to help the system shift towards prevention rather than remedying.

They also hope Whitehall will match local government’s “ambition” by “greater pooling of budgets” between health and social care, made possible through an expanded Better Care Fund.

And the LGA and ADASS restated that the NHS and local authorities must be able to work together to create an overarching care system focused on prevention – but said this is impossible if social care does not receive a similar funding commitment as the NHS.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the LGA’s community wellbeing spokesman, said: “At the moment, social care and health have a shared ambition, but not a share of the money which is needed to achieve this. It simply doesn’t add up and the Spending Review is the government’s opportunity to address this.

“Pumping money into the NHS but not into social care has to stop. NHS money will not pay for the essential visits from carers that help people to get dressed or washed or the night time call to help someone into bed. It is these services that enable people to live with dignity in the community for longer instead of being forced unnecessarily into hospitals beds – at a cost to the NHS and the public purse.

“We need a system which will be there for future generations – and we have ambitions in the Care Act to improve the lives of carers and those that need care – but these continued funding pressures are putting this at serious jeopardy.”

The call built on recent ADASS budget survey figures showing that 400,000 less people are receiving state social care and support today than five years ago.

It also comes just a few days after PSE revealed that more than half of people who ask for help with care from their councils receive no help at all, or are just given information about charities or similar groups instead.

Ray James, president of ADASS, said: “The welcome announcement of the living wage will inevitably increase the cost of care. Adult social care budgets have been cut by 31% in real terms over the last five years; 99% of NHS managers surveyed already report the impact of cuts to social care on frontline NHS services. For the first year in living memory, more care home beds have closed than opened.

“The simple undeniable truth is that the chancellor must provide a fair and sustainable funding settlement for social care to ensure growing numbers of older and disabled people get the care and support they need each and every day of their lives.”

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