Wednesday 2 July 2014

Cuts of 26 per cent make social care services ‘unsustainable’– ADASS  

Adult social care services in England will soon be `unsustainable’ if current budgetary pressures continue, and significant measures are not taken to inject new money into local social care economies.

This is the clear message from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ annual budget survey released today. Based on returns from 95 per cent of adult social services departments, it shows that despite the “very welcome help adult social care has received from central government, and the faith and finance that local councillors have invested in us as well” the cash invested in services will reduce by a further 1.9% in 2014-15: a sum equivalent to £266 million. 

ADASS President David Pearson said: “This is the third year of continuing cash reductions and the fifth year of real terms reductions in spending. Since 2010 spending on social care has fallen by 12 per cent at a time when the number of those looking for support has increased by 14 per cent. This has forced departments to make savings of 26 per cent in their budgets – the equivalent of £3.53 billion over the last four years Nothing can be starker than the truth these figures point to.

“In March this year the National Audit Office said that ‘need for care is rising while public spending is falling, and there is unmet need. Departments do not know if we are approaching the limits of the capacity of the system to continue to absorb these pressures.’ Our survey shows beyond doubt that we have reached the point where, as the NAO feared, we are unable to absorb the pressures they, and our survey, have identified.

He went on: “substantial additional financial burdens will flow from implementing the Care Act. These will include the welcome additional rights to be given to carers; implementing the Dilnot proposals, and responding to the Supreme Court judgement on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. 

“But combined with these budget reductions, as resources reduce and need increases, directors are increasingly concerned about the impact on countless vulnerable people who will fail to receive, or not be able to afford, the social care services they need and deserve.”

David Pearson also acknowledged the `Herculean success’ of his colleagues and their staff in making sure that, as far as all national polls suggest, services are maintained at stable levels of customer satisfaction. “This is a solid tribute to the capacity of social care staff to work well under pressure, and to their sustained commitment to caring for the people who need them.”

The survey points out, and Mr Pearson fully acknowledges, the role that local authorities have paid in doing their utmost to:

  • Protect investment in prevention currently at £923m for 2014/15,
  • Funding 83 per cent of demographic change, which is running at 3% per annum,
  • Seeking further efficiency savings,
  • Minimising the impact on the income of people we support,
  • Protecting ASC budgets as far as possible. Social care accounts for an increasing proportion of LA spending – now 35 per cent of LA spending in 2014-15 compared to 30 per cent in 2010/11 (excluding ring-fenced education), and
  • allocating 49 per cent of the NHS Transfer received in 2014/15 to avoid cuts to services that benefit both health and social care (compared to 32 per cent in 2013/14).

The survey also shows that directors feel gloomy about the future, with the pace of adult social care savings projected to continue at an accelerated trajectory for 2015/16. This will create further significant instability at the crucial time when the Care Act reforms and the Better Care Fund plans are due to be implemented.

  • Nearly 50 per cent think that fewer people will be able to access care services,
  • An equal number believe that people will get smaller personal budgets,
  • Over a half think care providers are facing financial difficulty, and
  • Nearly 60 per cent think there will be increased costly legal challenges.

Mr Pearson concluded: “Let nobody underestimate how hard we have all worked – adult social services departments alongside central and local government politicians - to minimise the damage that our current austerity might do to the vulnerable people for whom we have responsibilities. 

“Nor how policy makers and politicians might be putting too much faith in the benefits of integration with the NHS to help prevent this impending unsustainability. Joining up care and health services is the right thing to do. But any financial benefits are likely to be far outstripped by the sheer scale of the reductions in funding. 

“It is not directors’ job, but that of the country as a whole and its politicians, to debate how much, in times of the most severe adversity, vulnerable people should be protected from the consequences of that adversity by the introduction of new money into social care. I hope this survey will help get that debate started; fuel that debate, and help the people engaged in it reach a fair and humane decision.”

A separate document* also launched today draws attention to a wide range of local procuring practices.


For further information contact:
David Pearson, President, ADASS, 0115 977 4636
John Jackson, Joint Chair, ADASS Resources Committee, 01865 323574
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 07976 837755

*ADASS Procurement Survey, 2014

Editorial Notes

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors and senior managers of adult social services departments in English local authorities. Directors (DASSs) have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people, adults with disabilities and adults with mental health needs.

In many authorities ADASS members will also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of housing, leisure, libraries, culture, and community safety on behalf of their councils. More than a third of DASSs are also the statutory director of children’s services for their authority.

The annual ADASS Budget Survey of English adult social services was conducted through May 2014, and reviewed by CIPFA. Accompanying this press release is a more detailed analysis of the results and an executive summary