Following the changes to eligibility criteria, adult social care will need more funding and the concept could fail if not given.
The new proposed eligibility threshold is more generous than current regulations for who receives care, and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) point out that this will need more funding if it is to be implemented.
Last week the government published new eligibility criteria in an attempt to end the postcode lottery of adult social care; the new rules state that all councils in England would have to fund social care services for anyone deemed to have ‘substantial needs’.
These are designed to be the equivalent to the ‘substantial’ band that is currently in place, and as 86% of councils already use this as the minimum, the Department of Health is only allocating £23.5 million to implement the policy. The remaining 14% are only providing care to those with ‘critical’ needs, and this will require additional funding to ensure they can offer to more people.
However, Adass say that the new criteria is more generous than the current critera, meaning that more people would be eligible under the new ‘substantial needs’ than the previous substantial band. Therefore to implement this in theory will leave councils out of pocket.
They are also concerned that the threshold is too high to ensure that adequate needs are met. Many charities have said the criteria should be for all those with moderate needs to receive care.
Adass president Sandie Keene said:
“It’s not the same as substantial. The perception is that it’s lower than substantial.
The real risks [from the eligibility threshold] are what the bottom line is. The risk to local authorities is that the threshold is too low, the risk to people is that it’s too high.
The purpose of this is that we have national consistency; the early signs were that there was no consistency in the way people were applying the criteria and in the outcomes from this.
Adass have also expressed concern following the Spending Review; although they have welcomed the promise of additional funds, they have pointed out the potential adverse impact further reductions in overall local government might have.
Social services for adults are deeply woven into the fabric of local government services. The benefits gained from closer integration with the services provided by our health colleagues will be rendered less valuable if the intricate relationship with other local government services is threatened by severe downward pressures on local government spending as a whole.
Horse trading between priority areas for the most vulnerable in society is a grim spectacle and may not be the answer to the financial uncertainties we face.
The impetus to see the provision and commissioning of care in a whole-system context is undermined if one part of the system itself is undermined.