Skip to main content

Use of resources

How do you know you are making the best use of scarce resources?

In general, adult social care tends to account for the largest proportion of councils’ controllable expenditure: the national average was around 35 per cent in 2014/15.
Coupled with unprecedented financial pressures on local government as a whole and increases in demand, councils have been faced with demographic change,
significant new legislation on social care and fundamental changes to the local government finance system.

It is widely acknowledged that there are ever greater numbers of older and disabled people needing essential care and support, their needs are increasingly complex and the costs of care have increased, with a corresponding increase in the number of carers. Many adult social care departments and service providers are finding that those approaching them for help tend to have more complex needs than in the past; and an increasing proportion need very specialist or expensive packages
or placements. So, although fewer people are being supported by social services, the average amount spent on each individual is increasing in many places. Between 2009/10 and 2014/15 spending on adult social care fell by 17 per cent in real terms as councils’ overall budgets were reduced (source: the King’s Fund). This occurred at a time when the number of people looking for support increased by 14 per cent.

Charging residents extra council tax to pay for social care has failed to raise enough money to cover the cost of the new National Living Wage. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Care (ADASS) estimated that to maintain care in 2016/17 at the same level as 2015/16 would require more than an extra £1.1 billion. The Local Government Association (LGA) has estimated that the funding gap facing adult social care is growing on average by just over £700 million a year at least.

Most councils know that in the current financial climate they will be unable to keep pace with these demographic and financial pressures. Therefore, lead members for adult social care are having to engage in a fundamental re-think about how they use their scarce resources to benefit the most vulnerable members of their communities. The below offers some key messages to consider when undertaking this and some questions to lead members may wish consider when leading changes to the way services are developed and delivered.

Nationally, the LGA is well aware that adult social care is a vital public service that supports some of our most vulnerable people and promotes the wellbeing and
independence of many more. Sustainable and new funding for adult social care is one of key issues the LGA is calling on Government to address.