Elderly and disabled care becoming unsustainable

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Social services heads are warning that the council-run care system for disabled adults and the elderly is becoming ‘unsustainable’.

A survey involving 144 social care departments within England discovered that it was necessary to make savings of more than 25% since 2010.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) stated that the increase in demand and cuts in funding are the main issues. They issued a prediction stating that the situation would worsen, regardless of the attempts to put more NHS money into the care system.

According to the survey results, the total budget which has been allocated for means-tested social care by the councils during 2014/15 is £13.68bn. This is an effective cash drop of £266m from the previous year and a drop in real terms of 12% since 2010 after considering inflation.

During the same period, the survey which took cognisance of 95% of the total social care departments in the UK indicated that demand had increased by 14% since 2010, which implies that councils have had to save around 26%.

The savings have been achieved by a combination of reducing the numbers being given support by 20% over the past two years, and a reduction in the amount of funding for each person.

The president of ADASS, David Pearson, stated that the surveys indicate beyond doubt that a point has been reached where the pressures can no longer be absorbed. He added that as the needs rise and the resources decline, many people will not receive or be able to afford the social care they require. He praised the manner in which councils have managed to prioritise social care over the past four years which has seen an increase of 5% to 35% of the budget spend on services.

He added that the situation will worsen in future despite the additional £3.8bn which is to be pumped into the system under the Department of Health’s Better Care Fund, next year. The fund receives most of its funding from the NHS budget and is aimed at achieving better integration between social and health care.

This prediction has been supported by directors of social care departments with around 50% stating that fewer people will be offered help in the future and 50% warning about the impact on the NHS, as A&E units will have to bear the brunt of increased patient numbers.

Image Credit: Francisco Osorio

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