More than a third of adult social services directors expect they will overspend on their budget in 2013/14, according to a survey by the King’s Fund.
The fund’s quarterly monitoring report asked 47 directors about their likely financial situation in their department at the end of the financial year. It found that 36% believed they would overspend by more than 1% of their budget compared to 13% who expected to underspend by more than 1% of their budget.
The remaining 51% said they expect to break even.
In comparison the fund’s monitoring report issued in for February 2013 found that 31% of adult social services directors expected an overspend in 2012/13 and 29% expected an underspend.
Sandy Keene, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said the proportion of services expecting an overspend in 2013/14 is “a sign of the times”.
“Local authorities are finding it really, really hard to make further savings and most savings have to be done in consultation with the public so the timescales involved in that can be an influence as well,” she said.
The latest monitoring report also shows that adult social services directors are more positive about the potential for the Better Care Fund to improve patient care than NHS directors. More than half of adult social care directors (55%) said it would help with issues such as delayed transfers and A&E wait times while only 9% thought it would hinder.
In comparison only 12% of NHS trust finance directors thought the Better Care Fund would help and nearly half thought it would hinder their work.
Keene puts this gap in perception down to the Better Care Fund being primarily drawn from NHS budgets: “It’s not new money, its about telling local authorities and the health service how to spend money differently.
“The health service directors are cautious because they now have the role of making the funding available. But we’re pleased that the government recognises that without investing in integrated care adult social care services will be less sustainable.”
The report also found that 63 per cent of adult social services directors are fairly or very pessimistic about the 2014/15 financial year.
In the February 2013 monitoring report nearly three-quarters of adult social services directors said they were pessimistic about the 2013/14 financial year.