Adult services directors warn of service cuts and declining quality

Third of adults' directors plan to cut services next year while half say quality of commissioned services has declined, finds survey.

Adult services directors are warning they will have to make further cuts next year and that services they are commissioning are declining in quality, finds a survey published by think-tank the King’s Fund today.

Thirty six per cent of directors said they were planning to reduce the volume of services that their council funded in the next year; though none planned to raise eligibility criteria, one in five said they planned to increase the charges faced by clients.

In addition, 46% said that the services that they commissioned had got worse in quality over the past year, while just 22% said they had improved. Three-quarters of directors said they were fairly or very pessimistic about the state of the health and social care economy in their areas over the next years.

The King’s Fund surveyed 58 of England’s 152 directors in the first in a series of quarterly monitoring reports on the state of adult social services departments’ finances, published alongside its regular surveys of NHS finance directors’ views on the health service’s finances.

The survey also found that 31% of directors predicted they would end the year with an overspend on their budget, though a similar proportion predicted an underspend. Departments were aiming to save 6.3% of their budgets this year through efficiency savings, on average.

The findings will increase concerns about councils’ capacity to maintain the quality and capacity of adult social care services amid rising demand pressures and cuts in their budgets. The government’s proposal to spend £1bn a year by 2020 limiting the costs of self-funders’ care was criticised by some campaigners as the wrong priority at a time when councils were struggling to meet the needs of existing service users.

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