Only 4% of Directors of Adult Social Services are fully confident that their budget will be sufficient to meet their statutory duties this year, down from 35% in 2019/20, the annual budget survey by ADASS has found.
In its report on the 2020 survey ADASS said the diminishing confidence of directors in meeting statutory duties was "of great concern".
It said: “Directors and elected councillors have to make difficult decisions to balance the books. This means considering the number of people receiving services, the level and quality of those services and the price that is paid to care providers.”
ADASS warned that the ability of local authorities to ensure that people have access to social work, care and support and safeguarding services would directly impact on the ability of individuals to lead the lives they wanted to lead.
The Association claimed that the actual costs to local authorities and adult social care providers of the pandemic would far outstrip the emergency funding made available by the Government to-date.
A report commissioned by the Local Government Association and ADASS, and undertaken by industry experts LaingBuisson, calculated that the sector would face more than £6.6bn in extra costs, such as PPE, staffing and deep cleans, due to coronavirus, by the end of September 2020.
To date, adult social care has had access to approximately half of the £3.2bn Emergency Funding to support the whole of local government’s response to the pandemic, along with a £600m Infection Control Fund (£2.2bn total).
The report added: “The risk of already fragile care markets failing has significantly heightened as a result of the impacts of COVID-19. The increased costs faced by care providers, such as purchasing PPE at an inflated cost and a reduction in the occupancy of care homes in most areas has increased the likelihood of a significant number of providers, or a large provider, going out of business.
“This will be to the detriment of those people who need to access care and support services. 75% of Directors indicated that residential and nursing homes occupied by state-funded residents have seen a decline in the number of people accessing their services.”
ADASS continued: “As a nation we want our social care workforce to be rewarded for their compassionate, committed, highly skilled and essential work.
“A fundamental shift in resources is therefore required from Government as part of a long-term funding settlement for adult social care. The short-term nature of funding settlements from Government, coupled with the need for councils to deliver balanced budgets year on year, means that fee increases for providers barely cover the costs of the National Living Wage.”
It added: “With no clarity on future funding or reform, it is unclear how at a minimum, a basic uplift for adult social care staff wages will be funded next year. If we truly value our social care workforce, significant additional funding is required to provide a wage deal for our care staff. ADASS would like to see a ‘social care minimum wage’ as well as more funding for training and development, coupled with career progression.... in social care, social work and the NHS.”
James Bullion, ADASS President said: “Coronavirus has exposed dreadful inequalities relating to people’s mental health, people with learning disabilities, older people at the end of their lives in nursing homes, Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and poorer communities.
“It has also highlighted the courage, compassion and commitment of care staff and the essential work they do. The public are now more aware than ever of how essential social care is to our society.”
Bullion added: “These reports are a wake-up call that requires a clear response. Urgent action is needed to plug the financial black hole that has been blown in local government finances, to properly recognise and reward colleagues working in social care, stabilise providers of care and most importantly safeguard and ultimately enhance the care and support available to those of us who need it.
"Without such action, local authorities will run out of money, care providers will go to the wall, many of us will not get the care and support we need, and the economy will take a further hit as more of us are forced to give up work to fill the caring gaps. Prioritising social care is the right thing to do morally, ethically, economically and politically. We must act now, for all our sakes.”