ADASS/LGA Budget Survey: adult care coping despite rising demand

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

The Local Government Association

Date: Tuesday April 28, 2009

Embargo: 00.01 Hours, Wednesday April 29, 2009


Adult social care departments in England are providing effective and efficient services to thousands of disabled and elderly people despite huge increases in demand caused by demographic pressures and the economic downturn.

According to a joint survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the Local Government Association (LGA), adult care budgets have been severely stretched by increasing numbers of:


* Care home placements for people with learning disabilities.


* People living longer both in care homes and in the community. 84 per cent of councils said they face additional costs (in 2009-2010) as a result of demographic change which meant that each authority, on average, would be spending £1.715 million more.


Despite this, the vast majority of  councils spent either within, or only slightly over, their adult social services budgets while bringing increased efficiency to the way they manage their services. On average:


* Each authority had only ten people affected by delayed transfers from hospital care - so-called `bed-blockers - compared with an average of 15 in 2007, a fall of one-third.


* 42 users in each authority were receiving individual budgets, a rise of 163 per cent on the 2007-08 average of 16 clients per authority.


* The number of people getting direct payments increased by 37 per cent from 320 to 439.


Across all authorities, it is estimated that £379.1m has been saved through increased efficiency, with by far the largest savings generated in the area of better purchasing/procurement (£172m). 


Councils spent nearly £2 million each on average in 2007/08 on adult social care available to people without their having to undergo a formal assessment, or without meeting eligibility criteria. This represents a rise of 20 per cent on 2006-07 and is forecast to rise further, to £312.4m in 2008-09, around £2.6m per authority.


According to the survey the economic slowdown has meant authorities experiencing or anticipating:


* A reduction in the supply of services as independent care homes close (by 14.7 per cent of authorities), closely followed by an increased demand for welfare advice services. 


* A greater demand for mental health services.


Steps that councils are taking to alleviate the consequences of the recession include:


* Speeding up payments to suppliers in order to improve cash flows.


* Increasing co-operation and information sharing with other organisations, including hosting credit crunch seminars.


* Strengthening advice and guidance services to help people avoid health problems and becoming reliant on social care.


According to ADASS President Jenny Owen, These figures show adult social care services managing to provide increasingly efficient services, effectively, to a growing number of people in their communities. They reflect as well the extent to which our wellbeing role is beginning to kick in, with more and more resources being devoted to providing safe and secure environments for people to live in.


Resources continue to be severely restricted. But despite that, adult care services are responding sensitively to the changing economic environment while still doing their level best to care for vulnerable older people and people with disabilities.


Chair of the Community Wellbeing Board at the Local Government Association, Cllr David Rogers, said:


Its a cause for celebration that so many people now live for so much longer, but its not surprising that the services which help people enjoy their extended old age are being stretched more and more. The dream of councils everywhere is to be able to provide some level of help and support to all of their residents. Everyone needs to start thinking about how we can make that happen.


In this difficult financial climate it is more crucial than ever that the funds we have are used as sensibly as possible, so the maximum possible amount is spent on frontline services which support people to stay healthy in their own homes.


Within the next 15 years this country will be home to at least three million more over 65s, and there must be a plan for how we look after those who need care and support. Councils are well aware of this ticking timebomb, and its time for all national politicians to prove their commitment to the issue by including it as one of their three main concerns.




For further information contact:

Jenny Owen, President, ADASS: 01245 434806

Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

Nick Mann, LGA Press, 020 7664 3187