Newcastle council has approved plans to shed more than 50 posts in adult and children’s social care.
The cuts will see 30 full-time equivalent posts lost in adult services, equivalent to 19% of the workforce. In children’s social care another 22.5 posts will be lost, six fewer than the council originally proposed to shed back in January.
The job losses are part of a council-wide package of cost-saving measures designed to cover a £30 million shortfall in its 2016/17 budget.
Other social care cutbacks will include bringing adult care thresholds into line with the national eligibility threshold under the Care Act, ceasing the council’s contribution to the local CAMHS social work service, reducing personal budgets for carers, and getting adult service users to do their own assessments and reviews.
Multiple budget pressures
The council has blamed the need for the cuts on a combination of pressures including lower than expected central government funding, the cost of implementing the national living wage, the phasing in of the Better Care Fund and the city’s ageing population.
Council leader Nick Forbes told councillors ahead of the vote to approve the budget: “None of us like some of these proposals but we have to set a legal budget.”
An impact assessment supplied to councillors ahead of Wednesday evening’s vote on the measures noted that many of the social care savings will have a negative impact on service users.
In adult services it warned that the focus on high risk and complex cases will result in waiting lists for those without immediate need and “could also lead to avoidable illness and an increase in demand for NHS service”.
The reduced financial support for carers will see 291 lose their budget entirely and another 343 experience reductions of between £200 to £800 a year.
The assessment also noted that the living wage may also limit service users’ ability to pay for care and support: “If [the living wage] results in those providing services being paid more, it could easily also mean that the people buying the service can afford less of it unless the organisations in question are able to absorb any additional cost pressures.”
Of children’s social care the assessment said: “The cumulative impact of reductions in universal services and the increased targeting of residual services on only the most vulnerable increases the potential risk that parents/carers and young people with additional support needs will not be identified early enough to prevent them requiring access to more specialist services.”