Adult social care departments will have to slash jobs and increase service user charges as funding is cut by up to one-third, former government social care finance chief John Bolton (pictured) has warned.
John Bolton said there would be a “massive reduction in the money available for councils” over the next five years and “everything was up for grabs” in terms of making cuts.
Bolton, now interim director of adults’ services at Warwickshire Council, was speaking to Community Care after his authority announced plans to raise user charges for home, day and respite care, direct payments and transport services (see below).
He predicted a “worst-case scenario” of cuts of 25% to the adult social care workforce over the next few years, and expected job losses and increased charges to be pursued nationally.
“I know other directors are concerned by the level of quite sudden changes,” he said. “We [Warwickshire] have plans to reduce our workforce by 25% across all levels over three years. That’s what happens when you’ve got to cut [funding] by a third.”
Last week, it was revealed that the Treasury had asked all unprotected government departments to draw up contingency cuts of 40% during that period.
Bolton said: “There will be a massive reduction in the money available. Adult social care is 40% of the controllable expenditure of the local authority so adult social care is likely to see a massive reduction in the grants available. Everything is up for grabs.”
He said the cuts would have to go deeper than the reductions of bureaucracy endorsed by many politicians. “Many councils will say they’ve done that. This is on a scale no local authority has ever faced.”
Bolton raised concerns about council funding for low-level community services to promote older people’s independence and prevent or delay their need for institutional care.
He pointed out that the government-funded Partnerships for Older People Projects initiative, which piloted such schemes from 2006 to 2008, showed that they saved the NHS significant sums, without leading to similar savings for councils.
Bolton expressed hope that ministers would make the NHS fund social care for people leaving hospital. The revised NHS operating framework, published last month, said the government planned to change the way hospitals were paid for treatment so that it included reablement and post-discharge support.