Most councils in England have had at least one adult social care provider either fail or hand back a contract, despite 82% of councils increasing fees to providers to help fund the National Living Wage.
In its annual budget survey the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) found evidence of actual provider failure in 65% of areas in the last six months. This figure rose to 80% when accounting for providers who had handed back council contracts in the same period.
Less than a third of directors (31%) were confident they could make the savings demanded of them over the next year and still meet their statutory duties.
Increases swallowed up by National Living Wage
The survey showed that although the average budget for adult social care had increased slightly, as a result of the social care precept which allowed councils to raise council tax rates, this benefit had not been spread evenly across the country.
The increase had also been swallowed up by paying providers more to help fund the national living wage and overspends from last year. This means there is a still a gap of £941m (7% of net adult social care budgets) in 2016/17 of which 39% will come from service reductions.
Directors identified areas most likely to be targeted for cuts would be early intervention, integrated services, shifting activity to cheaper settings and better procurement.
Outlook is bleak
Adass President Harold Bodmer said: “We have been arguing for some time now that adult social care needs to be given the same protection and investment as the NHS. Services are already being cut and the outlook for future care is bleak.”
Vicky McDermott, chair of the care and support alliance, said the figures made grim reading for older and disabled people and their carers.
“It’s clear that the new council tax precept has not been sufficient to keep pace with rising demand for care and the National Living Wage.
“Chronic underfunding will continue to have serious consequences for older and disabled people, many of whom aren’t getting the support they need to get up, get dressed and get out of the house.”
The survey, completed every year, covered 151 local authorities in England but was carried out before the referendum on the European Union (EU) membership.
Bodmer said Adass would be closely monitoring the impact of the referendum result on the care economy and the thousands of EU staff working in social care settings.