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Adult social care to face £4.3bn funding ‘black hole’ by 2020

Services for elderly and disabled residents are in danger of spiralling into crisis as a new analysis reveals that local authorities will face a £4.3bn funding ‘black hole’ by the end of this decade.

An examination of town hall funding by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services showed that last year alone, councils were forced to divert £900m of funding from other budgets to simply maintain the current level of service, despite making efficiency savings and receiving additional money from the 2010 spending round. The pressures are set to continue and by 2020, councils will have to find £4.3bn just to manage care services at the current levels.

The shortfall is set to be caused by a combination of reduced government funding and rising demand on services, in particular from the country's rapidly ageing population.

It leaves thousands of older and disabled adults uncertain about their future care and access to vital services such as home care and meals on wheels.

The LGA says it is also a stark warning that successful integration of health and social care next year is vital to save the care system from collapsing.

Councils plan to protect spending on social care as much as possible but this will be at the expense of other community services like busses, parks and leisure centres.

LGA chair, Cllr David Sparks, said: "These new figures are further proof that we need to stop vital adult social care services spiralling into a black hole. We must act now to both improve quality of life for people in their older years and steer England's social care system away from the road to financial ruin.

"It's not right that councils are taking the biggest hit in the pocket when we compare funding for delivering health and care services. We should all be working together to increase the ambition for a future of integrated health and social care that will deliver the best possible care to those who need it.

"Too many older people are being let down by a system which leaves them languishing in hospital beds while they wait for an alternative, or consigned to residential care because we lack the capacity to help them live independently. This has to stop.

"The government should not be knowingly backing councils into a corner where they have to make impossible decisions about cutting other important services just to continue to manage caring and supporting our most vulnerable. We can't stress enough the impact this will have on communities, and of course we must start asking the question about what happens when we have made all of the efficiencies and there are no more services to cut.”

PSE asked the Department of Health for comment but they did not respond by the time of publication.

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