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£300m social care savings available through efficient assessment

Councils could save over £300m each year if they carried out clinical assessments for social care more effectively, the Audit Commission has stated.

A new report demonstrates that some councils conduct a similar number of reviews at the same quality but more cheaply. Identifying and eliminating the causes of the differences in cost could save a significant amount, which could then be used to fund care for thousands more elderly people.

The Local Government Association has suggested that the efficiency savings highlighted would not be enough to offset the shortfall of billions of pounds in care budgets.

Councils undertake assessments to identify what level of assistance people with social care needs require. In 2010/11, councils in England carried out around 1.8m assessments, costing £2.2bn.

The Audit Commission reported that £182m savings were available if councils reduced their assessment costs to the median for councils of similar type and circumstances. And reducing spend on assessments to 10% of the social care budget at all councils could save £312m annually.

The report suggests that councils can reduce their spending on assessments and reviews by redesigning the care pathway to provide information at an early stage to reduce the potential demand for formal assessments,­ reducing overheads by streamlining the administration supporting assessments and reviews and­ reviewing the grade mix of staff providing assessments and reviews.

Audit Commission managing director Andy McKeon said: “Assessments and reviews are a crucial element of social care, enabling individuals’ needs to be properly identified and met.

“However, our evidence suggests that councils can spend less and still do an excellent job in helping people receive the care that they need.

“As councils struggle to meet the needs of a growing older population with less cash, any opportunity to save money and redirect it into care should be pursued enthusiastically.”

The report is at:

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