Local social care services have demonstrated ‘remarkable resilience’ in the face of Government cut backs and demographic changes, think tank says.
A new report from Localis has praised councils for ‘competently’ delivering adult and children’s social services despite increased demand and a halving of Whitehall funding since 2010.
The analysis, published as On the Ropes: social care provision under austerity, shows most users of adult social care nationally remain satisfied with their care and support.
Some authorities have even managed to increase satisfaction among users.
However, the report warns that complex problems associated with rough sleeping and the ‘hidden homeless’, mental health, child poverty and the increase in numbers of looked after children threaten to overburden over-stretched council services.
‘A central and unreported element of the now workaday crisis we sometimes takes for granted is the incredible aptitude which local authorities have shown under continued pressure,’ said Localis' head of data research, Joe Fyans.
‘The scale of the cutbacks and impact on local services has been well-rehearsed and brought to national attention with instances such as Northamptonshire County Council’s well-reported demise.
‘But were it not for the fiscal straitjacket which has had a distorting effect on local authorities capacity and ability to deliver outcomes, quality of life and wellbeing may well otherwise have increased – particularly for the elderly and vulnerable across the country.’
‘Without greater financial autonomy and headroom in the future, our local leaders and communities will be left with nothing more than limited choices on where to deliver and prioritise bare ‘core offer’ services,’ said Mr Fyans.
The County Councils Network (CCN) also warned last week that, given a funding shortfall of £3.2bn over the next two years, county councils might be forced to cut services to a minimum.