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Stop steady fall in adult social care funding, government urged

Sector unites in unprecedented show of concern amid deepening financial crisis

Caroline White

Monday, 21 September 2015

In an unprecedented show of shared concern, social care sector organisations have called on the government today to stop the steady decline in resources for older and disabled people.

A dwindling pot of cash is having serious repercussions on the workforce, the economy, and the NHS, say the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Care and Support Alliance, the Care Provider Alliance and the NHS Confederation.

“The quality, safety and sufficiency of social care services are fundamental to a dignified society. However, the social care sector is in danger of a deepening crisis which is compromising the dignity, health and wellbeing of older and disabled people, their families and carers, the workforce as well as the economy,” they say.

In a joint submission to the Treasury ahead of the results of the government’s spending review which are set to be announced in November, the group warns that fewer people are receiving state-funded care.

This is leading to higher levels of unmet need displaced most likely to unpaid carers and the NHS, it says. Furthermore, people paying for their own care are having to stump up more than those who are funded by the state.

An ageing population living longer with more complex needs requires additionally trained and supported staff, it says.

The care market is in fragile state, says the submission, because councils have frozen fees and providers are deserting the market, with lenders delaying investment decisions in the care industry until the spending review announcement.

The quality of care is being compromised across the sector, warns the group, and sustaining a steady and reliable workforce is proving difficult. The announcement of the National Living Wage is welcome but needs to be properly funded, it says.

The submission points out that an efficient and effective NHS depends on a financially sustainable social care system.

The group urges decision-makers in government to “listen to our message … and demonstrate the value that our country justly places on getting it right for disabled and older people who need its care and support.”

The submission continues: “We want to see a transparent debate about the cost of, and funding for, sustainable care of a decent quality.”

The group urges the government to protect social care funding, including making provision to plug the funding gap which will have worsened by 2020, alongside the £8 billion gap in NHS funding over the same period.

Ray James, ADASS President said: “It is vitally important that this year’s Spending Review understands the importance of our services to vulnerable people; the significance of a well-funded, collaborative and integrated social care service has for the NHS, and the near-certainty that without adequate and sustained finances our ability to carry out our Care Act duties to maintain a viable home and residential market will be in jeopardy.”

Frank Ursell, representing the Care Providers Alliance, said: “The unprecedented scale and severity of the financial challenges facing the whole of the social care sector are such that we, the providers of services, have joined with the local authorities that commission those services to call on the government for urgent help. 

“This means both protecting social care funding from any further budget cuts at a national level, and taking steps to bridge the significant and fast-worsening funding gap that will hit the entire sector over the next five years unless corrective action is taken now.” 

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: “Funding for health and social care is no longer keeping pace with public demand and it’s vital that this doesn’t put patients at risk. These services desperately need a sustainable, long-term financial settlement to avoid a real crisis and to help them plan and invest as wisely as possible. Having a shiny NHS cog will be no good in a broken health and care machine.”

He continued: “Eighty-seven per cent of NHS leaders told us they want a five-year financial commitment from the government on health and social care. And 92% said funding cuts in social care were also having a negative knock-on effect on their own organisations and their services for patients.”

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