Welsh councils face overspend as they meet extra need, say directors

A new report warns that social services in
Wales face a £9m shortfall.

report by the Association of Directors of Social Services (Wales)
says that social services budgets are over-committed as councils
struggle to fund services for an increasing number of looked-after
children and older people.

Children’s services are facing
the greatest financial crisis, accounting for 75 per cent of the
total overspend predicted for Wales.

report says that a number of UK-wide programmes such as Children
First and Sure Start have been effective in identifying previously
unmet need and as a result the number of children requiring some
form of social care has risen by 6.7 per cent between 1997 and

extra pressures identified for children’s services include
providing more children with social care because of earlier
diagnosis of conditions for those with disabilities and rising
expectations of parents. There is also the issue of children
remaining in care longer, increasing use of more expensive private
sector services because of shortage of foster carers plus meeting
new burdens created by the introduction of assessment frameworks as
well as government legislation such as the Children (Leaving Care)
Act 2000.

community care services the report identified extra pressures
arising from an increase in the size of the 18 to 65 population
with special needs, and with the over-65s in general – both as a
result of improvements in health.

report also highlights problems in meeting the increased charges
made by private sector providers for services such as places in
care homes, organising care packages for those affected by winter
bed pressures in the NHS and meeting increased expectations
following the report of the Royal Commission on the Long-Term Care
of the Elderly.

all service areas, says the report, there is increased pressure on
budgets because of the need to meet new standards in regulating and
training staff as laid down by the Care Standards

(Wales) resources group chairperson Colin Berg said: “There has
been great emphasis recently on the value of joint working in
meeting the health and social care needs of the people of Wales. We
must begin to see health and social services as one system and
realise that improving funding in one part without addressing the
needs of the other part will only create new pressures and reduce
the overall effectiveness of the whole system.”

– For
more on the report go to www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/council/news/

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