Some councils are considering cuts of up to 40% to adult services due to demographic pressures and expected government spending limits, a directors’ leader has warned.
Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Richard Jones said the expected massive cuts in government spending from 2011-15 would hit some councils harder than others because they faced greater levels of demand over the coming years from increasing numbers of older and disabled people.
The government will unveil its spending plans on 20 October but existing projections point to average cuts of 25% in service areas other than the NHS and overseas aid, which will be protected from cuts. With the government expected to protect education and defence from the worst of the cuts, the situation could be even worse for adult social care.
Jones said: “The demographic pressures in some places means that if you have to take 25% out, that’s without the fact that there’s an increase demand from disabled and older people. In some places they will say ‘we’ll have to go well beyond 25% if that’s what we get’. Most councils up and down the country are looking at what 25% would look like.”
He said councils were looking at a number of possible areas for cuts including:
• Reducing the number of people coming into the system by increasing eligibility criteria.
• Reducing the level of support available to eligible users.
• Working with providers to make efficiencies and reduce the costs of purchasing care services.
• Reducing overheads, simplifying processes, cutting layers of management and reducing staff costs in councils.
• Promoting integration with the NHS.
He said the latter option was the most sustainable and that Adass was urging ministers to consider how NHS funding could be used to finance social care for the sake of both services.
Jones added: “If there is not some move of resources across or some very strong encouragement for primary care trusts to fund reablement, crisis support and additional capacity in social care we are going to see real risks of people facing delayed transfers, people being placed in inappropriate settings and significant increases in hospital readmissions that are very much outside of our ability to control.”
Jones’s call echoes comments made yesterday by an independent budget review panel and local government leaders in Scotland, who said the Edinburgh government’s government plans to protect the NHS from cuts should not come at social care’s expense.
It also follows a recommendation for the NHS to take over responsibility from councils for funding older people’s social care to aid integration and reduce costs. This was made by the think-tank Policy Exchange, which is close to the Conservative leadership in Westminster.
Jones said there had been positive signs from the government that it understood the need for the NHS to support social care.