The whole social care sector is currently engaged in the detail of implementing the ground breaking Care Act, that puts at its core the well being of people who need care and support. It is, therefore, desperately concerning that the latest survey from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) describes Social Care Services as ‘unsustainable’ with cuts of 26 percent.

The ADASS survey was based on returns from 95% of adult social services departments and suggest that cash invested in social care support will reduce by a further 1.9% in 2014-15: a sum equivalent to £266 million. The demand for social care has been increasing year on year at the same time as budgets have been falling drastically. ADASS President David Pearson as stated that over 5 years there has been 26% saved from budgets the equivalent of £3.53 billion over the last four years.

… good open relationships between the provider and the local authority can deliver long term support that keeps people out of crisis situations… This has to be a win-win situation.

ARC members, providing support to people with learning disabilities, are living in the harsh realities of this climate in the provision of local support. We hear about the tight pressures in contracting practice and the continual expectation of doing better with less. Whilst there is undoubtedly a strong national debate to be had, we want to focus on how to work with this situation locally. Providers are wanting to work closely with commissioners to make sure that support for people with learning disabilities is excellent and delivers quality outcomes that are not only good for the individual but also sensible in terms of getting the most out of the local authorities’ budget. We need to remind ourselves that the horror of Winterbourne View was also an incredibly expensive horror. Many of the people our members support require significant packages of care and support, and good open relationships between the provider and the local authority can deliver long term support that keeps people out of crisis situations, including expensive assessment and treatment units. This has to be a win-win situation.

… Working with local providers to get to grips with Market Position Statements is one way local authorities can make their case for funding to meet the requirements of the Care Act…

The Care Act puts considerable responsibilities upon local authorities, including ensuring the well being of people in their area. Care and support needs to be adequately funded for local authorities to be able to realise these new responsibilities. It is concerning that the ADASS report suggests many local authorities believe that people will be less able to access services, that personal budgets will be reduced and that there will be more legal challenges. Working with local providers to get to grips with Market Position Statements is one way local authorities can make their case for funding to meet the requirements of the Care Act, and they will have to manage how they build local capacity and provision, but we also have to remember that whilst adult social care funding is not ring fenced, local councillors will have to really fight to ensure that social care is prioritised against other budgets – this is a debate that has to happen locally, involving parents and family carers, local providers and the communities in which they work.

Later in the year ARC will be hosting a series of high level meetings with providers and senior councillors to discuss these challenges. In the meantime, let’s make sure this debate is local. People need to hear what their council are planning to do with their services.

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