Councils will find it impossible to deliver the cuts to adult social care expected in the coming spending review without a change in their statutory responsibilities, directors have warned.
Expected cuts in government funding of 25% from 2011-15 will be exacerbated by demograhpic pressure, making the total reduction in resource equivalent to 40%, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said in its submission to the spending review.
This equates to a £6bn reduction in annual spending against the current £16bn spend on adult social care in England.
“No one has identified how savings of almost £6 billion from adult social care could be achieved,” the Adass submission said. “Without a change to statutory responsibilities, achieving savings on the scale of 25-40% is simply not feasible. Any attempt to get close to this sort of reduction would have significant adverse effects on very vulnerable people.”
The submission reflects comments made by Adass president Richard Jones in an interview with Community Care in July.
It said increasing eligibility thresholds – as a number of councils are planning to do – “would not significantly limit the numbers who receive state-funded care” as councils were already supporting people with high needs.
In an apparent reference to the government’s Big Society agenda to involve volunteers in the delivery of public services, it said: “No one has identified how savings of almost £6bn from adult social care could be achieved. Without a change to statutory responsibilities, achieving savings on the scale of 25-40% is simply not feasible. Any attempt to get close to this sort of reduction would have significant adverse effects on very vulnerable people.”
Adass said significant savings could be generated from improved joint working between health and social care, but said the government needed to ensure its planned reforms to the health service delivered this. These will involve abolishing primary care trusts and transferring their health commissioning responsibilities to GP consortia.
“If this is to be effective, then it is crucial that implementation leads to the right outcomes in each area,” Adass said. “This must include incentives and sanctions which lead to co-operation and genuine partnership working in all areas.”