President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care speaks out about the crisis in the care home sector
More money needs to be spent on adult social care and the elderly to combat the under funding crisis in adult social care. That is the urgent call from councils, charities, the NHS and Care Home providers in an open letter sent this week to the UK’s Chancellor and other Cabinet Ministers.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care speaks out about the crisis in the care home sector
President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social
Care speaks out about the crisis in the care home sector
More money needs to be spent on adult social care and the elderly to combat the under
funding crisis in adult social care. That is the urgent call from councils, charities, the NHS
and Care Home providers in an open letter sent this week to the UK’s Chancellor and
other Cabinet Ministers.
Responding this week to the suggestion there was a considerable sum on money precisely set
aside for social care funding in the Chancellor‟s spending review, Ray James, the President of
the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said: “Yes. we are pleased there was some
welcome recognition of social care in the sending review, but we are fearful it is not enough
money for the living wage, and it definitely comes to late. Most of the money comes in the
second half of the parliament, and the funding pressure and funding crisis in social care is upon
On the living wage, which will have a significant impact on the sector, as so many care workers
are paid just the minimum wage, he said: The living wage will rise to about £9 an hour in the
course of this Parliament … and who doesn‟t think that front-line social care workers deserve to
be paid that given the really important work that they do. But we must see transparently from the
treasury with enough money provided in order for commissioners and providers to make sure
money is in the pay packet of front line workers”
Asked if what he was saying was he wanted them (commissioners and providers) to be
compensated for these extra cost..? He said: “In the care system about 60 per cent of care is
purchased by the state, council and NHS, about 40 per cent by individuals. We need to have
enough money in council budgets to so we can have a fair price for care and for those people
working on the front line.”
The package being provided by the government is going to be worth about £3.5 billion. Asked
what figure he had in mind, he said: “So, lets look at next year…? We said to government (and I
don‟t think they disputed this) that there was £700 million gap in social care - before you add in
the cost of the living wage. Next year that adds about £384 million - by independent estimates.
The only money that is there next year is just under £400 million which councils will be raising
through a 2 per cent levy themselves. That leaves a very substantial gap next year. Yes, there is
more money later in the Parliament, but even if we think about this year, councils are £340
million over spent. 76 per cent of council over spent in year, this year. “
Ray James stressed keenness to work with government to resolve all these issues, but; „We need
the money to flow through quicker.”
Asked if the government package was changed, and the £3.5 billion was available now, and if
that that would solved the problem, he said: “That would help reduce the risk that many
vulnerable older and disabled people face. It would help to ensure their families careers and
relatives could be more confident they‟d get the care and support they need. And it would also
help to ensure that some of the problems on the NHS that we saw last winter won‟t be as acute
again… in the next couple of years.”
“Winter is always a difficult time, and (certainly) the next two years - under the terms of this
settlement - present a very real risk that we see more providers unable to continue to provide the
care that people need.”
On his worrying assertion that perhaps providers will be unable to provide the care people need,
and if that was the case, what would happen to the people who are in care homes - earmarked for
closure. Where would they go? Into hospital, to family members …? - Ray James said:
“Councils have a statutory duty if providers fail to ensure there is appropriate care available for
people. We will always try and see if there are other people (if it‟s a care home…) willing to
buy the care home and operate it differently. Much more worried about home care, many people
receiving care in their own homes, it‟s logistically very difficult to ensure continuity if providers
fail there. But, ultimately… it may mean that more people will get admitted to hospital, or that
hospitals will be delayed in discharging people if there isn‟t enough money in the system to give
people the care and support they need in the right place at the right time.”
The Care Home Group - our response:
Ray James is absolutely right to highlight the very worrying muddled thinking behind the
Chancellors social care funding over the next few years.
In looking at adult social care, one of the overriding consideration had to be have been the very
practical need to adequately fund the present system … and increase that funding year on year to
accommodate the predicted massive rise in the elderly population.
To callously implement funding cuts - and then place the burden on local authorities (the people
they serve) to fill in the gap through a controversial and inadequate rise in council tax - is to turn
their back on a social problem set to be one of the biggest humanitarian challenges for any
government over the next 20 years.
Social care, especially of our vulnerable, needful and deserving elderly … has to be a priority.
The elderly need comfort, respectful structure and safety in their later years. And if they have to
go into care, or receive at home respite/domiciliary care, it has to be of a standard that would be
expected in a modern 21st century welfare state.
Any further retrograde damage to the care home sector will damage people‟s confidence in the
present government‟s ability to fund adequately one of our most sensitive, and „needy‟ social
It is a sad and deplorable fact that our elderly are being neglected in a way not seen since the
19th century. With social hardening, widespread social debt (paupers funerals are now
commonplace!) comes the fear of a return to the „workhouse‟ spectre of old age being an age
when society turns its back on those once deemed valuable members of society.
Austerity is widespread throughout society. But in old age it can mean being locked up against
your will, physically, financially, mentally… becoming only valuable as an asset „adopted‟ by
council or in care homes financially constrained and not fit for purpose.
It‟s telling that in a 2011 report (The Changing Role of Care Homes - Centre for Policy and
Ageing) it was suggested that long-term residential and nursing care in the United Kingdom
(has) undergone substantial changes since the early days of the Victorian Workhouse and the
Poor Law hospitals, but… in certain respects, the reforms may have gone full circle.
Baulking this backwards trend has been the involvement of private investment in the care home
industry. Linked to the prosperity of the „economy‟ - and not reliant on destabilising, variable
central/local government funding - current models where individual care home rooms/modern
studio apartments are owned by individual investors and leased back to a management company
for attractive returns has been shown as a way of propping up this „neglected‟ and essential
caring service our elderly need and deserve.