Social Care budgets are reaching a tipping point where funding is being outstripped by demand and the elderly and vulnerable face the prospect of having no support from their local councils; senior council officers have said.
The stark future for OAPs and the disabled was spelt out in two separate warnings on the cuts in government grants to local authorities which has seen spending fall by £3.5 billion since 2010
They come after the Labour Group on Walsall council highlighted a major funding gap in adult services this year which will hit the care of elderly and vulnerable adults if it is not addressed.
A report by The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services published yesterday said that social care services would be ‘unsustainable’ if budgets cuts continue and no new money is injected into council budgets.
ADASS President David Pearson said: “Since 2010 spending on social care has fallen by 12 per cent at a time when the number of those looking for support has increased by 14 per cent. This has forced departments to make savings of 26 per cent in their budgets – the equivalent of £3.53 billion over the last four years. Nothing can be starker than the truth these figures point to.”
He added: “Combined with these budget reductions, as resources reduce and need increases, directors are increasingly concerned about the impact on countless vulnerable people who will fail to receive, or not be able to afford, the social care services they need and deserve.”
In response to the continuing cuts Walsall’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat cabinet have ordered a review of Fallings Heath House respite centre which supports people with profound and multiple disabilities, in an effort to save cash.
Leader of the Labour Group on Walsall Council said the report proved what authorities across the country had known for some time; that reducing budgets hit the vulnerable first and hardest.
“Here in Walsall, social care has born the brunt of the Tories and Liberal Democrats’ cuts of over £97 million in the council’s budget since 2010, 37% of the total cuts. In short, the old and the infirm have been paying for the Government’s policies. Earlier this year, in response to £1 million shortfall in Walsall’s adult services budget we proposed a very modest council tax increase of 35p per household per week. This was voted down by the Tories and Liberal Democrats who were more concerned about the impact on their votes during May’s elections than the elderly.
“Now we are told that we have to find another £84 million in cuts over the next four years. This independent report shows that Walsall can’t just ignore the issue. We need to put these services at the top of our list of priorities, after all, these people are our mothers and fathers, our family and neighbours and we can’t just leave them to fend for themselves.”
The report by the ADASS coincided with a warning from the Chairman of the Local Government Association and Conservative leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, Sir Merrick Cockell, who said that next year will be make or break for social services as cuts in grants from central government leave local authorities facing a funding gap £5.8bn between March 2014 and March 2016.