Friday, 24 January 2014

A question on adult social care

I put a question to Cllr England who is the cabinet member for adult social care (amongst other things) at last night's borough council meeting at TCAT. Last night was the first time public questions had ever been asked at a borough council meeting.
Without social services’ support, many carers will be unable to continue to care for loved ones at home.

The planned cuts to the adult social care budget will result in more adults needing full time professional care in care homes at the council’s expense.

How much is care home use expected to rise and what is being done to ensure there is adequate provision?
He gave a comprehensive response explaining where they thought they were going to save money and that they don't expect an increase in care home use. I disagree with the conclusion and believe that the savings will be outweighed by the additional costs. Many carers simply wouldn't cope without the comprehensive support of adult social services and the care and respite that they facilitate. The people with complex needs who are the hardest to care for at home are the ones who will cost a fortune to keep in a care home. Spending £15k on a care package for a severely disabled adult to allow them to be cared for at home is much more sensible than withdrawing support and footing the £75-80k cost of providing full time residential care for them.

Interestingly, the Conservatives have prepared an alternative budget and say they would cancel the Pride in Your Community programme which they consider to be pointless window dressing and spend the money on keeping down the cuts to the adult social care budget. They may have a point on priorities but figures released recently show that crime rates in Woodside have dropped by something like 60% in the 10 years since the regeneration was carried out there. There is evidence to show that physical regeneration reduces crime and anti-social behaviour and increases self-esteem which has a corresponding positive impact on levels of worklessness. Of course, Woodside had something like £74m spent on it eventually which is significantly more than the anywhere else in the borough is likely to see.

My conclusion is that both parties have clearly thought about their budgets but neither of them has the right answer. I don't know where the money would come from to maintain adequate funding for adult social care but it's clear to me that not finding the funding will cost the taxpayer more money.