Prevention key to cutting service demand

Future funding for adult social care could be subject to the introduction of value-for-money performance indicators, the strategic finance director for social care at the Department of Health told delegates.

John Bolton stressed the need to reduce spending on residential care, which was by far the biggest area of expenditure, accounting for nearly half of adult social care budgets.

He said solutions could be found in early intervention and prevention strategies.

Bolton said that re-ablement – such as the use of specialist support services to enable recovery from injury – was becoming an “emerging theme” within the DH. Alexandra Norrish, head of social care strategy at the DH, added that reducing demand for social care was one of three fundamental objectives of the government’s forthcoming green paper on the funding of long-term care.

Bolton told delegates that the Treasury accepted that rising numbers of vulnerable adults meant adult social care costs had risen by 4.5% on average.

But as part of the comprehensive spending review for the next three years, settlements will only increase by 1.5%, leaving local authorities with the task of achieving savings of 3% every year. “It’s really important that the efficiency part of the deal is delivered, because without that the settlement is unaffordable,” Bolton said.

However, Sue White, of the London Borough of Southwark, raised concerns that the savings were being absorbed by acute services in the health sector, and were not aiding social care.

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