Responding to a report by the Public Accounts Committee on the adult social care workforce in England, which states that a credible plan to sustain the underfunded care sector is needed this year, Cllr Linda Thomas, Vice Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“This report lays bare the stark facts behind the adult social care crisis which is of increasing concern for the entire sector and cannot be ignored by the Government.
“Councils have done all they can to prioritise and protect adult social care, but the combination of historic funding reductions, rising demand and increasing cost pressures means many councils are having to make significant savings and reductions across their budgets, including within adult social care itself.
“This is leading to an ever more fragile provider market, growing unmet and under-met need, further strain on informal carers, less investment in prevention, and continued pressure on an already-overstretched workforce.
“The funding gap facing adult social care is set to exceed £2 billion by 2020 and this simply addresses the impact of inflation, the National Living Wage and demographic change; it does not address other key pressures such as unmet need, improved training, and pay and conditions for the social care workforce, including sleep-in costs. The majority of this pressure is with us now with an estimated £1.3 billion of the £2 billion needed to stabilise the care market.
“Unless immediate action is taken to tackle increasingly overstretched council budgets, the adult social care tipping point, which we and others have long warned about, will be breached, which will lead to a substantial increase in people’s care needs not being met and overspending by councils.
“A long-term solution that delivers genuinely new and sustainable funding for social care is desperately needed, otherwise councils risk not being able to fulfil their statutory duty under the Care Act. This need to be supported by a realistic workforce strategy which recognises and values the vital roles played by the front line care workers, managers and nurses.
“Government needs to address immediate pressures impacting on the system today, and ensure its Green Paper will deliver reforms to future-proof the long term sustainability of adult social care.”