‘Unrealistic’ target leaves councils pondering where to make savings

About 50 per cent of visitors to Community Care’s website say
that plans to give primary schools more freedom undermine the
government’s aim for integrated services supporting all children.
This week’s question asks: Would you consider becoming an
independent social worker to escape poor local authority working
conditions? To vote, go to www.communitycare.co.uk Councils are set
to miss an “unrealistic” government target for adult social care
efficiencies, despite the huge savings already in motion.

The implications of a study from the Institute of Public Finance
are that the £180m savings in this financial year would need
to increase to at least £250m in each of the next two years to
hit the Department of Health’s £684m target.

But the £180m savings already represent more than twice
those made in any other service, and, with less slack in the
system, efficiencies are expected to become more difficult to

Andrew Cozens, past president of the Association of Directors of
Social Services, described the department’s figure as
Although councils are not bound by the department’s target, social
care leaders believe they will be held to making 2.5 per cent
annual efficiency savings across all services.

The department has sent care services efficiency delivery teams
into 31 councils to identify sources of savings, and proposals for
authorities to follow are expected soon.

Mona Seghal, programme manager for adult social care at the
Local Government Association, said councils must hold to their
overall 2.5 per cent annual targets and make efficiencies within
that as they saw fit.

She said: “It’s possible that local authorities could construe
the department’s targets as their own but that is wrong. We are
keen to get the message across that local authorities have to make
efficiency savings in the way that’s most appropriate for

Of the £180m from adult social care, £130m is expected
to be cash savings, while the rest represents non-cashable
efficiency gains.

Although cashable savings are intended to be reinvested in
front-line services, there is no guarantee that the £130m will
be poured into adult social care.

Children’s social care was the next biggest source of savings,
with £82m, £68m of which is expected to be cashable.

The IPF report is available from


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