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Mounting pressures lead councils to overspend on social care by £21bn

Over half of councils are expected to overspend on their adult social care budgets this year, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has claimed.

With each council exceeding their budgets by up to almost £21m, ADASS has urged for the long-term reform of adult social care to be brought forward.

Despite a £2bn cash injection for social care over three years, the association has warned that the sector is experiencing “significant financial, workforce and quality pressures,” which must be addressed.

The challenges come as a result of council savings and increasing vacancy rates for home care staff.

ADASS argues that while the £2bn boost will reduce delayed transfers of care from hospitals, it will not address the continued funding gap, increased support for people living longer with more complex needs or the costs of the National Living Wage.

It is concerned that these challenges threaten councils’ abilities to fulfil their statutory duty under the Care Act - with only 4% of directors confident in their abilities to do so this year - and impact on older and disabled people, and their families.

In its submission to the Autumn Budget, ADASS is calling for the government to:

  • Secure additional funding to address the service pressures and stabilise the care market; bring forward a wide-ranging consultation;
  • Give care staff and social workers the same recognition as other professionals, such as doctors and nurses, and address the pay and training issues;
  • Ensure the full engagement of councils in the sustainability and transformation partnerships and in the emergence of accountable care systems.

President of ADASS, Margaret Willcox, said that there is growing concern about the “safety, and sufficiency of adult social care services” across the sector.

Explaining the need for more funding, she said: “The extra £1bn for adult social care this year barely covers the £824 million in savings that directors will have made this year and cannot hide the fact that by the end of this financial year, £6bn has been cut from councils’ adult social care budgets since 2010 - with need for our services growing all that time. 

“With a continuing funding gap this year and beyond, increased overspending in council budgets, care providers closing or returning contracts, rising need, extra costs due to the National Living Wage and continuing difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, the social care system remains in a perilously fragile state.”

She called for social care to be a “national priority” for the government and “future-proofed.”

“Whilst we are pleased that government has committed to publishing the long-awaited green paper on social care next summer, more needs to be done now to secure extra recurring money to address funding gaps, address continuing service pressures and the stability of the care market,” she added.

Last week it emerged that the government had quietly pushed back its plans for an adult social care green paper.

Willcox called for the long-term reform of the services to be brought forward.

“The need for a cross-party consensus on establishing a fair and transparent solution to adult social care is growing – and ADASS looks forward to contributing to debates on this,” she concluded.

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