Saturday, August 31, 2019

Social Services on the Brink of Collapse

Social care services in some areas of England are so fragile that they face complete collapse next year unless the government commits substantial extra investment in next week’s one-year spending review, Age UK has warned.

“Growing levels of desperation described by those individuals, families and professionals on the sharp end bear testament to a system working at full pelt, stretched to its limit and still failing people left, right and centre,” the report said.

It also highlighted fears that the market for residential care in many areas was failing, with half of councils witnessing the closure of domestic home care providers in their area in the past year, and a third seeing residential care homes shut down.

Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said the report painted a “frightening” picture of what might happen to social care unless the government intervened decisively to lift massive pressure on local authority social care budgets.

“When you strip out the complexity the story is really very simple: demand is going up but funding and supply are going down, leaving increasing numbers of older people to fend for themselves, rely on loved ones if that’s an option for them, or pay through the nose via a hefty stealth tax without which many care homes would not stay afloat,” Abrahams said.

“Things are so bad in some places that it is becoming impossible to source care, however much money you have. Certainly, the idea that there will always be a care home or home care agency able to help you in your neighbourhood is increasingly out of date.”
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said in June that the system was adrift “in a sea of inertia” as Brexit dominated ministers’ energy and attention.

A cross-party Lords committee including two former chancellors called in July for an immediate £8bn investment to tackle the long-neglected “national scandal” of social care that had left more than a million vulnerable older people without proper support.
The Health Foundation thinktank said the English social care system needed £1bn from next week’s spending round to stabilise it financially and prevent collapse, although this would be a sticking plaster and not the long-term plan that is required.

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