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ADASS report exposes a seriously underfunded care system

Maris Stratulis National Director for BASW England comments on the ADASS Budget survey

ADASS has today published the ADASS Budget Survey 2020: Impact of Covid-19 on budgets

Commenting on the ADASS Budget survey, Maris Stratulis National Director for BASW England said:

"The report exposes a seriously underfunded care system, with only 4% directors saying they are confident that they have the funding needed to meet their statutory duties. 

"Social workers are on the frontline of cuts to Local Authority budgets which have hit vital services for older people, children, families, individuals and carers so hard in the last decade, and now the coronavirus pandemic is exposing further serious inequalities within our communities.

"Appropriate social care for those in need cannot be delivered in the absence of a wider model of Adult Social Care which is sustainable and funded.  The government must consult with people with lived experience, their carers, families and the social work and care sector and set out a clear plan for the future of Adult Social Care – proposals that are already long overdue."

View the ADASS Budget Survey 2020: Impact of Covid-19 on budgets here

Key messages from the ADASS Budget Survey are:

Without significant financial intervention from the Government, the lives of people who use social care and their family carers will be seriously impacted in terms of their lives and wellbeing. There are huge additional financial pressures being faced by councils because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Planned savings of £608m to balance budgets and the loss of a minimum of £190m of planned income means that only 4% of directors are confident that their budgets are sufficient to meet their statutory duties. This puts at risk the assessment of individual’s needs, , safeguarding adults and provision of care and support services to older and disabled people.

The actual costs to local authorities and adult social care providers of the pandemic will far outstrip the Emergency Funding made available by the Government to-date. A report commissioned by the LGA and ADASS, and undertaken by industry experts LaingBuisson, calculated that the sector will face more than £6.6 billion in extra costs, such as PPE, staffing and deep cleans, due to coronavirus, by the end of September 2020. To date, adult social care has had access to approximately half of the £3.2bn Emergency Funding to support the whole of local government’s response to the pandemic, along with a £600m Infection Control Fund (£2.2bn total).

The risk of already fragile care markets failing has significantly heightened as a result of the impacts of Covid-19. The increased costs faced by care providers, such as purchasing PPE at an inflated cost and a reduction in the occupancy of care homes in most areas has increased the likelihood of a significant number of providers, or a large provider, going out of business. This will be to the detriment of those people who need to access care and support services. 75% of Directors indicated that residential and nursing homes occupied by state-funded residents have seen a decline in the number of people accessing their services.

Only 4% of respondents are fully confident that their budget will be sufficient to meet their statutory duties this year, down from 35% in 2019/20. The diminishing confidence of Directors in meeting statutory duties is of great concern. Directors and elected councillors have to make difficult decisions to balance the books. This means considering the number of people receiving services, the level and quality of those services and the price that is paid to care providers. The ability of local authorities to ensure that people have access to social work, care and support and safeguarding services will directly impact on the ability of individuals to lead the lives they want to lead.

As a nation we want our social care workforce to be rewarded for their compassionate, committed, highly skilled and essential work. A fundamental shift in resources is therefore required from Government as part of a long-term funding settlement for adult social care. The short-term nature of funding settlements from Government, coupled with the need for councils to deliver balanced budgets year on year, means that fee increases for providers barely cover the costs of the National Living Wage. With no clarity on future funding or reform, it is unclear how at a minimum, a basic uplift for adult social care staff wages will be funded next year. If we truly value our social care workforce, significant additional funding is required to provide a wage deal for our care staff. ADASS would like to see a ‘social care minimum wage’ as well as more funding for training and development, coupled with career progression across the in social care, social work and the NHS.