ALMOST ALL DIRECTORS OF ADULT SOCIAL SERVICES across England say there is neither enough funding nor enough care workers to meet the support needs of older and disabled people this winter.
Fewer than one in 10 directors think they could manage with existing resources over the next few months, a survey has found. Three in four say they could not cope if a large care provider were to fail.
The findings come ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Thursday, which will set out spending cuts that could make the outlook for adult social care even worse and could postpone introduction next year of reforms including a cap on personal liability for care costs.
ADASS, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, is calling for any savings arising from a postponement of changes to charges for care to be used to improve care workers’ pay and conditions, to enable more people to receive care sand support at home and to help unpaid carers.
The survey, the latest in a series carried out by ADASS, has found that 94 per cent of directors either disagree or disagree strongly that they have sufficient funding to meet the costs of care over the winter.
The same proportion, 94 per cent, either disagree or disagree strongly that the social care workforce in their area will be sufficient to manage.
Nationally, more than one in 10 posts is vacant. Asked about potential measures to ease pressures:
- 90 per cent of directors backed a rise in funding to enable recruitment of care workers on the same pay rates as those for comparable jobs in the NHS.
- 93 per cent called for an immediate further injection of funding to be used flexibly at local level – in addition to a £500 million ‘discharge fund’ already announced but not yet distributed
- 97 per cent backed a boost to the financial and practical support available to unpaid carers.
Directors said they were being asked to find a further £113m savings from their budgets this year, in addition to £597m reported in a previous survey in the spring, and they were planning for £1.3bn savings in 2023-24 – 6 per cent of their proposed spending.
Asked how they felt about the financial outlook for social care and health locally, 97 per cent of directors said they were either pessimistic or very pessimistic. This compares with 85 per cent in a snap poll in July, showing a marked further deterioration in mood in recent months.
Three in four directors (75 per cent) said they could not manage if a large care provider were to fail this winter as there was no longer the resilience in the system that enabled local authorities and other providers to rally round when that occurred in the past.
Cathie Williams, ADASS chief executive, said: “This is the bleakest autumn survey we have ever had. Only a handful of directors have any confidence they may be able to get through the winter with the funding they have and the care workers available locally. We were fearful in the summer; we are fearful now. This affects all of us.
“The £500 million discharge fund will not solve this, when it is finally distributed – and it is urgently needed. We desperately need another significant injection of emergency funding to provide more help for people at home.
“If the Chancellor is going to postpone next year’s charging reforms, he must ensure that the cash already allocated for them is re-purposed to bring forward other measures that have an immediate impact on the ground so that more older and disabled people get the care and support they need.”
Up to £3 billion a year has been budgeted for care reforms due to be introduced from next October, including an £86,000 lifetime cap on personal liability for care costs and a raising of the personal assets threshold for state support from £23,250 to £100,000.
The survey was conducted between 13 October and 4 November. Of the 152 directors of adult social services in England, 116 (76 per cent) responded. Results have been extrapolated.
* Read the full Autumn Survey report here.