Local government has faced unprecedented cuts since the 2010 general election that have impacted dramatically on adult social care and its capacity to deliver. The impact is ultimately felt by people who use social care services. Contrary to what the Government has said repeatedly since the 2010 Spending Review, its injection of an additional £7.2 billion for adult social care over the last four years has not solved the adult social care funding question. Adult social care spending has therefore been kept under control through a combination of budget savings of 26 per cent (the equivalent of £3.53 billion over the last four years), the NHS transfer and at least £900 million of savings from other council services. The service is now under extreme pressure and facing financial crisis. Local authorities have responded by prioritising the adult social care budget, maintaining spending of more than £900 million on preventative services, and pursuing the efficiency agenda with vigour and innovation.
The short-term looks increasingly difficult. The scope for further savings is now reduced and at the same time real concerns remain about the affordability of the Care Act. Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards will add further costs and exacerbate existing pressures. Directors of adult services believe that legal challenges, and the pressures facing providers and the NHS, will all increase over the next two years.