The council efficiency savings announced this week sound dramatic,
but come nowhere near plugging the £1.5bn black hole in social
The crisis covers both children’s and adults’ services and
represents a lack of commitment from the government to real
excellence: a failure to repay the continuing willingness of local
authorities to embrace change, strive for targets and improve
The funding shortfall explains social care’s “optimism gap”.
Despite enthusiasm among social care’s decision-makers for the
government’s plans for both children and adults, the mood on the
front line remains, in many places, far more cynical and fearful
for the future.
The government’s vision across both children’s and adults’ social
care is of a shift towards preventive, non-stigmatising services
that divert people from crisis and the compulsory and intrusive
services that follow a crisis. But even if this would allow a
reduction in crisis services, which is not certain, it would not do
so for years. Furthermore, more flexible and widely available
services, far more responsive – even in children’s services – to
the self-defined needs of individuals and families, are not
It’s easy to dismiss calls for more money from local government.
But the context of great change and greater efficiency must not be
ignored. The government’s commitment to the ideas so many in social
care support will simply not be credible without sufficient