More social care cuts 'will hit elderly and disabled'

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More social care cuts will hit elderly and disabled people due to a funding shortfall, leaders of adult social services have said.

The annual survey of 151 directors of social services in councils across England found there are plans to save £824m from social care costs, with at least 39% of this coming from cuts to services.

The new research from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said more than £1.1bn in extra cash would be needed just to maintain last year's level of service.

The council tax precept - designed to help ease the burden on social care - raises £380m per year.

But this accounts for less than two thirds of the national living wage for care staff, the study said.

Last year, 45% of directors surveyed said they felt confident savings could be made, but this has fallen to 36% this financial year.

Next year, just 8% feel confident savings will be achieved.

Some 84% of directors also said care homes and providers of care in their area are facing financial difficulty. Despite this, leaders plan to increase spending by 1.3%.

Margaret Willcox, president of ADASS, said councils wanted to protect social care budgets as much as possible.

"The welcome £2 billion in funding will help close the funding gap facing adult social care, yet councils still plan to make further savings of £824 million this year which will impact on those who receive care," she said.

"This is because more older and disabled people are living longer and with increasingly complex support needs, as well as financial pressures caused by the welcome national living wage and other cost pressures, including emerging ones from the NHS such as fines for delayed transfers of care.

"For the first time, financial pressures due to the increasing care needs of younger adults with disabilities or mental health problems are greater than those due to supporting older people.

"The opportunity to invest in prevention to reduce future demand is being hampered by the need to help those with greatest and immediate need - those who we have a statutory duty towards.

"With providers continuing to close or return contracts back to councils, more people are struggling to access the care they need and depend on.

"To help remedy this worrying situation, the new Government needs to tackle the chronic underfunding of adult social care which still remains on a cliff edge."

Andrew Kaye, head of policy at Independent Age, said: "This survey raises significant concerns over the financial sustainability but also, even more worryingly, levels of quality in the social care sector.

"It is disturbing that three-quarters of directors of adult social services believe that care providers are facing financial difficulties.

"But what is really unsettling for older people and their families is the news that more than two in three social services chiefs now believe quality in care services may be suffering too."