Heather Jameson 18 June 2020

Social care is running out of cash, experts warn

Social care is running out of cash, experts warn  image

Social care could run out of money to deal with the fallout of the coronavirus crisis by the end of the summer unless the Government steps in with more cash.

The peak of the crisis may have passed, but the impact on social care will continue for a long time to come, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care (ADASS) has said. They estimate they will need at least as much funding again as they have already had.

In the second report on the dire state of social care and its funding, the association called for a two-year ring-fenced funding settlement to protect services while a long-term solution is found.

The annual survey of adult social care directors found only 4% of respondents were confident their budgets would meet their statutory duties this year – down from 35% in 2019-20.

ADASS president, James Bullion, said: ‘These reports are a wake-up call that requires a clear response.  Urgent action is needed to plug the financial black hole that has been blown in local government finances, to properly recognise and reward colleagues working in social care, stabilise providers of care and most importantly safeguard and ultimately enhance the care and support available to those of us who need it.

 ‘Without such action, local authorities will run out of money, care providers will go to the wall, many of us will not get the care and support we need, and the economy will take a further hit as more of us are forced to give up work to fill the caring gaps. 

‘Prioritising social care is the right thing to do morally, ethically, economically and politically.  We must act now, for all our sakes.’

The report said care needs ‘significant financial intervention’ and the cost of COVID-19 to local authorities and care providers ‘will far outstrip the emergency funding made available by Government to date’.

A report by LaingBuisson for ADASS calculated the sector will face an extra £6.6bn costs due to COVID-19. To date, the whole sector has received £3.2bn.

ADASS has also warned that the already fragile care market is at even greater risk of failure, with the likelihood that several providers could go out of business.

  • The association has called for:
  • a two-year ring-fenced funding settlement for adult social care to cover the costs of COVID-19 and allow reform to be agreed, planned and implemented
  • a new employment deal with care staff, including a workforce strategy, a social care minimum wage, training and career progression
  • reform of the care provider market based on a sustainable business model
  • a cross-government and cross party and public consultation to build a care service for the next 10-20 years to include proper funding; reshaped care markets; primary, community and mental health services; and to tackle inequalities.

The report added: ‘Doing nothing is not an option.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) described the report as a ‘wake up call’.

Health and social care policy manager at CIPFA, Dr Eleanor Roy, said: ‘Reform of adult social care is already decades overdue. Without immediate additional, targeted support, vital social care services and vulnerable individuals are at risk. CIPFA is entirely in agreement - doing nothing is not an option.’

Chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said: ‘Our dedicated and committed care workforce have risen to the unprecedented challenges caused by coronavirus, with their contribution rightly receiving the widespread recognition it deserves.

‘But we need both an immediate and long-term funding settlement to get through the next few months and years.’

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