Camden Council joins sector response to tackling the ‘broken’ adult social care funding system
Camden Council has submitted its response to the Local Government Association’s green paper for social care and wellbeing consultation, regarding the challenges facing adult social care in Camden.
The consultation sought the views of people and organisations from across local communities on how best to pay for care and support for adults of all ages and their unpaid carers. The LGA will respond to the findings in the autumn to inform and influence the Government’s green paper and spending plans.
The LGA reports that since 2010 councils have had to bridge a £6 billion funding shortfall just to keep the adult social care system going. In addition the LGA estimates that adult social care services face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care, while latest figures show that councils in England receive 1.8 million new requests for adult social care a year – the equivalent of nearly 5,000 a day.
Responding on behalf of Camden Council, Pat Callaghan, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Tackling Health Inequality and Promoting Independence tells that ‘years of significant Government underfunding, alongside rising demand and costs for care and support, has pushed adult social care services to breaking point’.
In a detailed 12-page response Cllr Callaghan tells that chronic underfunding has led to a broken adult social care funding system nationally, with a number of areas of particular concern:
- Rising populations of older and disabled people with greater acuity means that inevitably we will need more funding to meet these more chronic needs with greater numbers of people.
- Underfunding has led to a fragile social care market and rising costs. To meet the challenge of reduced funding providers have become reliant on zero hour contracts and a low waged workforce. This has led to high staff turnover and poor quality care. To address this challenge in Camden we have invested in the London Living Wage and the Ethical Care Charter, whilst we believe this will have a positive impact on our local workforce, stabilising the market and driving up quality, it adds further financial pressure on Council budgets. How the Council will continue to fund this going forward is a grave concern.
- We know that prevention is key, not only to improving outcomes for individuals but also in reducing costs in both social care and health services. Prevention services remain under funded, and in the past have often been the first to disappear in the face of cuts. Camden wants to change the way we spend our budgets to focus on prevention, but we need to make significant investment in these services if they are to succeed, as well as taking a long-term view about the outcomes we expect to see from these services. The funding system has to enable us to do this.
- We fully support the principles of the Care Act and Mental Capacity Act, however, meeting their requirements has led to more people requiring support and therefore additional budget pressures.
Camden’s residents will be well versed in hearing the council tell of the impact of Government enforced austerity on our borough.
But with the council again facing funding cuts and having to make savings of £40 million over the next three years, it’s vital that both Camden and the local government sector continue to call for the Government to recognise the impact that they are having on our services and our communities.
The Local Government Association consultation will build a body of evidence from right across the country that outlines the impact that the inadequate adult social care funding system is causing at a local level.
It will also demonstrate the innovative and efficient work that councils, like Camden, have carried out in order to cope with such significantly reduced levels of funding over the last decade.
But the Government need to wake up to the human consequences of continuing to push the adult social care system to a tipping point. Enough is enough, the cuts need to stop and the sector needs funding solutions sooner rather than later.