Survey findings cast doubt on Government care cost estimates

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Saturday, January 30, 2010
Embargo: 00.01 HRS

Government estimates of the funding required to provide free personal care for elderly people with high levels of need have 'significantly underestimated the true costs involved according to the results of a survey carried out by ADASS.

The warning comes shortly before the House of Lords is due to debate the Personal Care at Home Bill, which faces adult social services departments with the challenge of delivering an additional £250 million in efficiency savings. According to the ADASS survey the true cost of the policy could be a minimum of £1 billion, with the overall cost to local authorities rising to more than twice the £250 million originally calculated by Central Government.

Calling for an urgent meeting with the Department of Health to help clarify these issues, ADASS President Jenny Owen said: "Government assumes that personal care needs can be met through an average package of 6.54 hours of care per week at £15.75 per hour amounting to £103 per week.

"However our research shows that local authorities have estimated a much more expensive average care package for a user with high needs. Information we have received from 61 authorities shows that the average cost of care is about £200 per week.

"Also, the number of existing self-funders in any given area is often unknown, as is the number qualifying as eligible under the Fair Access to Care eligibility criteria."

And, she went on: "if the final policy means that people with critical care needs will not have to contribute to their care needs regardless of the cost, then funding pressures on local government will clearly be well above the sum estimated by government. Councils will additionally have to bear the costs of undertaking an increased number of assessments as people currently paying for their care enter the system to claim their new, free entitlement."

Acknowledging that the central problem lay in calculating how much time should be made available for caring for people with high level needs, Ms Owen emphasised that ADASS "is keen to meet with the Department of Health to help to clarify and resolve these outstanding issues."

The Bill is due to come into effect in October this year.

ENDS

For further information contact:
Jenny Owen, President, ADASS, 01245 434806
John Jackson, Joint Chair, ADASS Resources Network, 01865 323 574
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

Photographs of Jenny Owen and John Jackson are available on request. Also are available are case studies showing the number of hours required to meet the needs of older people with high levels of care.

EDITORS' NOTES

From October 2010, personal care in peoples own home will be provided free of charge to older people with highest personal care needs, defined as those who are defined under Fair Access to Care (FACS) eligibility criteria as 'critical' and who have difficulty in undertaking four or more activities of daily living.

The Bill to make the necessary changes is currently going through Parliament - the essential change is to allow the Government to require local authorities to deliver care free of charge for more than six weeks.

Government's impact assessment estimates approximately 280,000 people will benefit from ongoing free personal care (though 166,000 already receive it free).

It is estimated that around 74,000 of the 280,000 are not currently known to social care services.

In addition, the government expects local councils to fund a period of intensive enablement for 130,000 people per annum at a cost of £1000 per person.

Government has apparently estimated cost of delivering personal care at approximately £103 per week, based on 6.54 hours of care per week at £15.75 per hour. While income will be lost from 37,000 people nationally.

Overall costs have been estimated at £670 million, made up of £420 million central funding and £250 million in local government efficiency savings. ADASS is currently compiling a report on the basis of a national survey on the cost and implications of the Free Personal Care pledge.

The national consultation is seeking views on what should be contained in the regulations supporting the Bill; what should be contained in the supporting guidance, and on three potential models of allocating funding to councils, It runs until February 23.