Higher Council Tax bills fail to close care funding gap
Published on 13 July 2016 04:00 PM
Charging residents extra council tax to pay for adult social care has failed to close the funding gap, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) today reveals.
The extra money raised raised through higher council tax bills is failing to cover the cost of the new National Living Wage (NLW), let alone address the huge shortfall in funding in the face of increasing demand, a survey of all 151 adult social services directors in England has found.
£940 million needed just to keep care services at last year's levels
Research published today by ADASS highlights that the precept, introduced in the Autumn Statement 2015 to give councils the option to raise council tax by 2% for adult social care will generate less than two thirds of the more than £600 million needed to cover the National Living Wage this year.
That means that this year, directors of adult social services are left with a gap to fill of around £940 million just to keep services operating at last year's levels - for all of those people who need them.
ADASS President Harold Bodmer said: 'Councils are working hard to protect adult social services budgets, with adult social care accounting for 35% of council spending for the third year running.
'However, with more people needing support and having increasingly complex needs, the impact of the welcome national living wage, and other cost pressures, fewer people are getting help, and councils are having to make reductions which will impact on people who receive care.
'More money needs to be invested in prevention to reduce future demand, but with funding under such pressure and diverted to those with greatest and immediate need - those that we have a statutory duty towards - the opportunity to do that is being taken away.
'We have been arguing for some time now that adult social care needs to be given the same protection and investment as the NHS. Services are already being cut, and the outlook for future care is bleak.
'We're at a tipping point where social care is in jeopardy, and unless the Government addresses the chronic underfunding of the sector, there will be worrying consequences for the NHS and, most importantly, older and disabled people, their families and carers.'
The precept raises least money in areas of greatest need
The overall budget for adult social services has risen slightly from last year due to the precept, from £13.65 billion to £13.82 billion, but there is wide variation between individual councils, with 70 of 151 reporting a fall in budgets. 62 councils needed to draw on reserves last year to fund budget shortfalls, while 52 had to cut services to balance budgets.
The precept also raises the least amount of money in the areas of greatest need, intensifying budget pressures.
The survey also found that more people in need were being affected by the crisis in social care funding:
- Despite a 3% increase in the older population, there has not been a corresponding rise in people receiving care;
- At least 24% of the £941 million (7%) savings that adult social services directors will be expected to make this year will come from cutting services or reducing personal budgets;
- 80% of directors reported that care providers - both care home owners and home care providers - were facing financial difficulties and closing care homes or handing back contracts to councils, affecting thousands of people, despite 82% of councils increasing fees to providers.
Over a million older people who need daily care receive no help at all
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK said:
'Despite the best efforts of councils to protect adult social services budgets, the latest ADASS survey continues to highlight the terrible and growing gap between the care needs of older people and the services available to meet them.
'Unless policy makers are willing to invest in the sector, thousands of older people and their families and carers face a bleak future living without basic daily needs being met. It is a disgrace that there are already over a million older people who need support for things like getting dressed, going to the toilet, taking their medication or preparing their food who receive no help at all.
'There is an unprecedented uncertainty about the future of the social and political landscape which impacts all of us. This should not come at the expense of older people and the services that they require. We urge the new Prime Minister to recognise the importance of quality social care and commit to increased investment as an urgent priority.'