Spread of direct payments ‘under threat’ from proposed spending cuts

The Department of Health’s aim to cut 2.5 per cent from adult
social services spending could threaten its drive to increase
direct payments, Andrew Cozens, president of the Association of
Directors Social Services, has warned.

Despite repeated assurances from community care minister Stephen
Ladyman that direct payments will remain top of the political
agenda, Cozens said the DoH policy of making £650m efficiency
savings across English social services departments over the next
three years could damage the move to a more personalised,
choice-led service.

Cozens warned the situation could see councils struggling to meet
the government’s objectives of offering individual services while
securing large service contracts.

“Councils with half of their service users on direct payments may
find it difficult to commission larger contracts and therefore make
savings in that area,” he said.

A proportion of savings could be made through a policy shift
towards “supporting people at home”, he added.

Cozens is a member of the DoH steering board that will advise a
team of civil servants who will work with 50 English councils of
varying degrees of spend and population over where cuts in their
adult social services budgets can be made.

The teams – part of the care service efficiency delivery programme
(CSED) – are due to go out in the next few weeks and will work in
partnership with the NHS, service providers and the voluntary and
community sectors.

A mechanism for sharing best practice is expected to be made
available at the end of the year. However, decisions over where
actual cuts are to be made will be left up to individual councils.

A DoH spokesperson said: “It is in the interest of all local
authorities to free up as much resources as possible for front line
services. Local government will retain any efficiency savings that
are derived.”

The CSED steering board consists of the ADSS, Commission for Social
Care Inspection, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Local
Government Association.

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