10 ways councils are targeting savings from adult social care in 2014-15

Local authorities are turning to rationing, reductions in care packages and innovation to cut the costs of care

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Photo: OJO Images/Rex Features

Today Community Care has published an analysis of council spending plans for adult social care in 2014-15. Below are details of 10 ways we found local authorities are planning to make savings in adult social care over the next financial year. Each council named was offered an opportunity to comment – where responses were provided they are included below.

  • 1. Reducing care and cutting personal budgets

A series of local authorities plan to make substantial savings by reducing the cost of care packages, including personal budget allocations. For example:

East Sussex council plans to save £3.2m by restricting adult care packages to ‘focus on personal care needs’ rather than activities of daily living. The local authority hopes to save a further £2m by restricting personal budgets for adults and older adults to the “maximum of the residential rate”.

  • Knowsley council plans to save £888,000  by launching a ‘robust’ review of community care packages, a move the local authority admits will leave service users with less access to social activities and could impact on carers’ ability to have a break.
  • Nottinghamshire County Council plans to save £925,000 by reducing the value of the average community care personal budget.
  • Cornwall council plans to save £2.6m by reassessing clients to make sure “eligible need is met in a best value way”. The local authority also plans to save £760,000 by reviewing its resource allocation systems used to calculate personal budgets for older adults and people with learning disabilities.

What the councils said:

A Knowsley council spokeswoman said: “Reduced funding from Government means we have had to make efficiencies across all council services. These have not been easy decisions to make, and we have worked hard to protect social care services wherever possible. Where we have had to make reductions to spending on social care, we have carefully considered how the impact on residents can be minimised.”

Councillor Alan Rhodes, the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said his local authority was facing its “toughest budget challenge yet” as rising demand and central government cuts had left an £154 million budget gap. “We are reviewing our adult community care spend to ensure we still meet residents’ social care needs whilst preventing people from becoming dependent on our services unnecessarily,” he said.

  • 2. Delegating budget management to frontline staff

Bromley council plans to save £1.45m this year by capping adult social care costs. The local authority is considering allocating budgets directly to care managers in a bid to ensure that frontline staff “understand fully the implications of their decisions” on finances. The council plans to introduce a mechanism to “limit the spend in any one month” on these budgets.

Community Care asked the council what would happen if a care manager exceeded their ‘budget’ and whether the local authority believed that social workers are currently allocating care packages that are too generous.

In response, the council provided the following statement: “In terms of adult social care our intention is to make the best possible use of extra care housing and support services. Accordingly, the need to place residents in nursing and residential homes will be reduced and so the route into such provision will be more closely managed in the coming year.”

  • 3. Increasing charges for social care

Derbyshire council is looking to save up to £3m by increasing the amount people pay for social care from the current level of 50% of their disability living allowance or attendance allowance to either 60%, 75% or 90% and by removing all funding support to people with capital assets over £50,000 (not including their main home). The council also hopes to save £250,000 by introducing a flat charge of £5 for all transport to adult care services.

Read an article by Derbyshire’s cabinet member for adult social care on the pressures facing her budget.

Cornwall council plans to save £750,000 by scrapping a cap on the maximum services users will pay for homecare.

  • 4. Cutting the hours of care people receive

Knowsley council plans to save over £1m by cutting the number of hours of support different groups of service users’ receive.

  • Moves to cut five hours of supported living care per service user will save £600,000.
  • Plans to cut 50 service users’ day care from four or five days’ of care per week to three days per week will save £230,000.
  • Plans to reduce the capacity of the reablement service by around 150 hours’ worth of care will save £177,000.
  • Plans to cut 278 weeks’ worth of respite care for people with learning disabilities, older people and their carers will save £140,000.
  • Housing-related support for offenders will be cut entirely. The move will save about £118,000 a year but the impact “may be fewer offenders being able to sustain their tenancy”, a council report states.
  • 5. Reablement

East Sussex council plans to save £2m by putting 3,000 people through reablement. Brighton and Hove council plans to save £1.1m through reablement reducing the need for residential care.

  • 6. Replacing home visits with telecare

Hertfordshire County Council plans to save £375,000 by working with private provider Serco to cut the need for homecare visits by ‘significantly’ increasing the use of telecare. Some 3,000 telecare packages will be installed in adult care service users’ homes. “Serco have guaranteed savings of £1.5m from 2014/15 onwards”, a council report states.

A council spokesman said: “The £375,000 saving is targeting the replacement of 15 minute homecare calls, deemed inappropriate by ministers, with a 24/7 telecare service to prompt people who need medication or security calls. We’re also looking at community capacity for people who are lonely – service users have told us that 15 minute calls do not help them with loneliness, they want other options.”

  • 7. Changes to the assessment process

Barnet council plans to save £500,000 by combining parts of its adult social care assessment process – “in compliance with legislation” – with the local authority’s customer service function. When asked for details, a council spokesman said: “Work is underway at the moment to develop these proposals and where appropriate we will consult on these in due course.”

Nottingham City council plans to save £201,000 by conducting more reviews of care over the telephone and less face-to-face. The council also plans to save £162,000 by reducing the frequency of assessments “in appropriate cases”.

  • 8. Squeezing providers

Barnet council plans to save millions of pounds by renegotiating contracts with external providers in 2014/15. The local authority believes it can save £1.6m on social care contracts and £1.9m through renegotiation of learning disability packages.

Brighton and Hove council plans to save £1m by limiting inflation increases on care fees.

  • 9. Cutting back on mental health support

Several local authorities were seeking savings in care provided to people with mental health needs. For example:

Cambridgeshire council plans to save £300,000 by reviewing care packages for people with mental health needs.

  • Brent council plans to save £72,000 by reviewing aftercare offered to all people under section 117 of the Mental Health Act. Section 117 places a statutory duty on local authorities to provide aftercare to certain patients who have been detained under the Act. A council spokesman told Community Care that the local authority believes some people currently in receipt of funding may not be entitled to it.
  • Knowsley council plans to save £27,000 by cutting a post dedicated to promoting social inclusion for mental health service users.
  • 10. Reducing ‘double-up’ homecare

Bristol city council plans to save £300,000 by investing in new equipment that means people will need one carer rather than two.

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6 Responses to 10 ways councils are targeting savings from adult social care in 2014-15

  1. Michelle Morritt April 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    All these cuts seem to say that a service users choice is being taken away. CQC and Local Authorities preach so much red tape that Providers have to adhere to in offering Equality and Choice. Promote and Enable independence and yet it is being taken away. Offering a service user a telecall from a security firm to prompt medication is so impersonal. How can that person on the other end know for sure that the medication has been taken. Who records on the Daily Living/ Medication forms that it has been witnessed as being taken. It is shocking. It seems that there is 1 rule for Care Providers and another rule for Local Authorities. Care Providers must provide a quality first and price second service and yet the Local Authorities turn that and require price first and quality second.
    Government please sort it out and put the Service Users first for a change.

  2. Keith April 9, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    How will ‘reviewing’ care plans save money per se (mental health needs, Cambridgeshire)?

    The assumption (of course) is that LESS care is required thereby saving this figure quoted. Of course, some needs may accelerate and require additional support in the care plan(s). Then this quoted money saver, itself, will need to be reviewed by Cambridge?

  3. Blair McPherson April 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    No mention of cutting up to 25 percent of management posts or outsourcing support services (HR, IT, Admin) all of which impact on the support to social workers and the quality of service on offer.

    • Andy McNicoll April 10, 2014 at 10:28 am #

      Hi Blair, I probably should’ve explained this in the article but we’re going to look specifically at workforce changes in an upcoming article based on the research. That’ll include management and staffing cutbacks. Cheers, Andy

    • Jenny Weinstein April 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      Of course it won’t save money in the long run because more people will require acute care from both social services and NHS. Prevention is so much cheaper and they are so short sighted.

  4. Alison Doig April 10, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    We live in one of the council areas mentioned. Our daughter, who has a severe learning disability, with behavioural difficulties and medical needs, stands to have her support package reduced by around 30%. This would mean she would lose a day a week of social activities outside the home, putting much greater pressure on us as carers, and possibly leading to a deterioration in her mental state.

    How can it be that this can be happening up and down the country to the most vulnerable people in society, with so little publicity, so little outcry? How is that the support systems for disabled people are being trashed, and we are going back to a time when being disabled meant you were out of sight, out of mind? I do not really blame our Council, who in the past have treated us very fairly. I blame the government who have imposed these cuts on them , with a callous disregard for consequences.