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Social care needs £1bn boost or councils at risk of failing statutory duties

Social care requires £1bn of emergency funding in this year’s Budget in order to stabilise the market, or else some services are at risk of failing, directors of social care have warned.

In its representation for the 2017 Budget, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said that urgent funds distributed on a needs-based system are required to address the social care shortfall or councils will begin to fail in their statutory duties.

The current fragility of the adult social care market was demonstrated by the results of a survey of ADASS members last October, which showed that 62% of directors had experienced residential and nursing home closures in the past six months and 57% had care providers hand back contracts.

“During this hard winter and throughout next year we will continue see more older and disabled people not getting the care and support they rely upon to survive each day, an even greater toll being placed on those 6.5 million family members and other carers, increasing delays in the NHS, and even more care homes closing and growing gaps and failures in the care market,” read the ADASS’ representation.

“We are aware that others ask for more, but emergency assistance of £1bn, distributed on a needs-based formula, to prevent further deterioration whilst working on longer term solution, would go some way towards stabilising the system.”

ADASS has stressed that successive governments have failed to fund social care adequately as social care spending as a percentage of GDP continues to fall, while councils project a combined overspend next year of £441m, up from £168m last year.

The organisation has said that local government finance settlement measures such as increasing the social care precept are “not sufficient” to tackle the crisis, as the precept raises less than the national living and minimum wage requirements for councils in all regions except one.

ADASS has warned that social care services may be slashed further if council overspends cannot be funded by savings in other council services or from reserves.

The LGA added in its own representation to the Treasury that the underfunding of social care is making it impossible for authorities to fulfil their statutory obligations under the new Care Act, leaving councils vulnerable to failure or even judicial review.

In ADASS’s survey only 8% of adult social care directors in councils said that they were confident in their capacity to meet the full duties of the Act in the coming financial year.

“If no new money is urgently announced [in the 2017 Budget], then government needs to be honest and upfront with the public about the limitations of the care and support we can provide, and the fact that as a society we will no longer be able to meet the ambitions and objectives of the Care Act,” said Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board.

In addition to calling for an urgent injection of £1bn into adult social care, ADASS also called upon the government to provide long-term solutions such as making provision for the funding gap up to 2020 and addressing workforce recruitment and retention in the sector.

Recently, council leaders supported calls by MPs for the prime minister to reach a cross-party agreement on the future of health and social care, while stressing that any funding solution must be “fair and sustainable”.

However, local authority chief executives have warned that the government’s commitment to deliver greater funding certainty to councils has been “complicated” by the government’s decision to use the New Homes Bonus (NHB) to fund social care.

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