£1bn emergency funding needed to prevent social care crisis - Adass

£1bn in "emergency" Government funding for councils should be included in the Budget to prevent an immediate social care crisis, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has said.

Councils are projecting a combined overspend on adult social care of around £441m in 2016-17, up from £168m in 2015-16. With the Better Care Fund back-loaded until the end of the decade, it warned that funding will come too late to help two million people who rely on care and support and the market is at "increasing risk of collapse". 

With no new money announced for social care and more than 97 per cent of directors saying measures in the Local Government Finance Settlement (LGFS), such as the increase in the council tax precept, will make little or no difference, Adass said councils will fail to meet their statutory duties in 2017-18 without "significant and immediate funding".

"Unless this funding is forthcoming, we will continue see more older and disabled people not getting the care and support they rely upon to survive each day, an even greater toll being placed on those 6.5m family members and other carers, increasing delays in the NHS and even more care homes closing and growing gaps and failures in the care market," Adass president-elect Margaret Willcox said.

Announcing the LGFS, local government secretary Sajid Javid said the increased council tax precept and £240m from the New Homes Bonus means up to £7.6bn of dedicated funding for social care is available over the next four years.

But Willcox said current arrangements come "nowhere near what is needed to meet the increased needs for, and costs of, care for older and disabled people".  

Analysis by Adass highlights the "worrying fragility" of the market, with nearly two-thirds of councils (62 per cent) reporting closures of residential and nursing homes, and more than half (57 per cent) saying providers had handed back contracts.

"A cumulative total of £5.5bn has been cut from council social care budgets by the end of this financial year. If the huge projected council overspends of £441m cannot be funded from savings in other council services or from reserves, even greater reductions in social care services will follow in the next few months and many councils risk failing to meet their statutory duties," Willcox said.

"Emergency assistance of £1bn - which is at least what all leading sector experts say is needed to fund adult social care next year - and distributed on a needs-based formula, will prevent further deterioration while working on a longer-term solution, and would go some way towards stabilising the system for councils, providers and the NHS.

"We are keen to work with Government and the sector to identify a solution to funding sustainable social care in the longer term, which will need to be debated with the public and look at the full range of funding sources and how they may be fairly distributed in future."