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What are the opportunities and threats for further savings in adult social care?

Report | February 2016

A new paper from IPC Visiting Professor John Bolton considers how councils in England have delivered savings over the past five years in adult social care and what options - if any - they might have in a period of continuing financial challenges.

This latest paper offers a personal view based on work commissioned by the Department of Health with six councils during the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review in Government, the Local Government Association`s Adult Social Care Efficiency Programme and the author`s direct work with a number of councils assisting them in finding savings over the last five years.

Some local authorities have managed to deliver savings of around 20% or more of their gross budgets in the four years to 2014/15. Savings have been made across the board with a strong focus on prioritising people with the greatest needs and lower cost ways of meeting the needs of others. Earlier work suggests that Councils have minimal room to deliver further savings without a major impact on what is offered or in meeting statutory obligations but some areas have been considered for potential further savings.

The report argues that there may still be scope among local authorities to introduce or refine the provision of care, seeking to avoid formal care where that is safe and helping people in other ways, ensuring that opportunities for recovery and recuperation are consistently offered, and that an assessment of needs is not rushed when someone is in a crisis (e.g. at the point of hospital discharge), thus helping to avoid residential or other institutional solutions where possible.

All such opportunities can be best achieved if the NHS adopts similar approaches and works in partnership with adult social care to deliver improved outcomes.