The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Local Government Association (LGA) and Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (Solace) have all warned the government that there is a mismatch between the governments plans for the welfare reform and the continuous cuts to benefits and the social care budget.
The long awaited reform of social care for older people has risen to the top of the political agenda, with Cameron and Clegg viewing it as the centrepiece of the coalition’s midterm review, which sets out priorities for the rest of the parliament.
The reforms laid out in the draft bill give all of the solutions to the problems in health and social care and could make the system one, but there seems to be little realisation of how much these reforms will cost, and without the funding to back it up, these plans will fall flat.
The LGA and Solace said the plans in the draft bill were admirable, but were detached from economic realities.
In a joint response, they said:
Without a clear commitment from government on funding for social care reform the admirable aspirations of the bill will simply not be realised.
The overall context in which the draft bill is being considered – the government’s austerity programme and the need for further savings – does not fit well with the aspirations of the bill.
The response from ADASS warns of the misguided level of how much this would cost and the “fundamental mismatch between the aspirations of the draft bill…[and] the wider austerity programme” and that the calculation were not reflective of true costs.
Both responses welcomed the draft bill’s increased use of personalisation and prevention, and strengthen entitlements to support for people and their carers, but both point out that the plans dont seem to take present cuts and funding in to account, and also warned that some duties on councils in the bill were unworkable or could only be made to work if duties were also placed on other agencies.
David Rogers from the LGA points out that the current care system as it stands is already under strain:
The current care system is in danger of collapsing. Unless we see urgent action, the growing funding crisis threatens our ability to provide basic daily services that older people rely on, such as help with washing, getting out of bed and meals on wheels.
ADASS have warned that the plans could actually do more damage by raising peoples’ expectations of the care system, but then not providing enough funding to meet the demand lead by new expectations.
The government need to either step back from the suggested plans and not make the changes that it recognises are necessary for an aging population, or they can recalculate the funds and, in spite of the cuts to social care that have been deemed essential for the budget cuts, fund the plans fully to ensure they do work.
If it is one of these ambitions is not changed, then the government risks wasting the money that is used to half fund the reform as the plans will require more than they can give.