Tens of thousands of home carers who look after vulnerable elderly relatives could be pushed into unemployment, warns the Alzheimer’s Society.
Government cuts are leaving local authority social care budgets “at breaking point”, while struggling home carers are left juggling work and caring duties.
Within ten years, up to one million Alzheimers patients will be dependent upon the care they receive from relatives. This is estimated to save the economy around £11.6bn each year, which is greater than the £8.8bn spent on the NHS.
Head of policy at the Alzheimer’s Society, George McNamara, said:
“Further government cuts to social care could lead to tens of thousands of working people forced to give up their jobs to look after elderly relatives over the next five years.”
“Workers can’t fit caring responsibilities into a lunch break.
“Looking after an elderly parent with dementia takes huge amounts of time, energy and emotional stress. Many carers will have no choice but to give up work unless they get better public services.”
Whilst the government has recognised how childcare can help to keep people in work, providing quality assistance to home carers has not been awarded the same level of importance or significance.
Mr McNamara said:
“The Government has recognised the need to improve parents’ access to childcare to maintain economic recovery. But sidelining social care for a rapidly growing population of vulnerable older people also poses serious risks to the economy.
“Local authority budgets are at breaking point, economic growth is slowing and a massive wave of cuts in public service is imminent.
“We want the Government to end the crisis in social care and provide a vital lifeline for working families caring for elderly relatives.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 17 May 2015
Cuts have hit the region’s town halls nine times harder than wealthy parts of the South, a new analysis shows – despite the North facing much higher care bills.
The study highlights the areas where people suffer most from poor physical and mental health, disability and early death, imposing huge extra costs on local councils.
The worst-hit fifth of 325 authorities includes no fewer than ten North-East areas, a list headed by Middlesbrough which is ranked fourth for “health deprivation and disability”.
Not far behind are Newcastle (13th), Hartlepool (14th), Gateshead (17th), Darlington (20th), Redcar and Cleveland (21st), Sunderland (25th) and County Durham (28th), followed by Stockton-on-Tees (51st) and South Tyneside (65th).
On average, those ten councils have lost £213.04 of their overall ‘spending power’ for every resident since 2010, according to finance chiefs at Newcastle City Council.
Yet, the average loss in the ten areas with the fewest sick and disabled people, and much lower care costs, is calculated at just £23.19 per head – more than nine times less.
Incredibly, spending power has actually risen at one authority, Elmbridge, in Surrey (up £8.14 per head) – while it has plummeted in Middlesbrough (down £289.02).
The gulf is seen as crucial because social care is the biggest financial burden for cash-strapped councils, which are now also responsible for public health.
Recently, the charity Age UK warned that older people have been left “high and dry” by council cutbacks to help with washing and dressing, to day care places and meals on wheels services.
Hilary Benn, Labour’s local government spokesman, condemned the much-bigger cuts in areas with the biggest ill-health and disability burdens as “deeply irresponsible and unfair”.
Councils hit by the biggest cuts are already known to have slashed spending on adult social care by 12.7 per cent on average – against just 1.2 per cent in more protected authorities.
Labour has promised a new “fairer formula” for distributing local authority grants, but has yet to give details, or say when this would be introduced.
The ‘spending power’ measure bundles together grants, council tax, business rates and the New Homes Bonus, but is widely criticised for disguising the true scale of the pain.
Newcastle’s finance department calculated the changes since the 2010 general election, after the Government refused to produce official figures.
Source – Northern Echo, 14 Feb 2015
A North East MP has accused Government ministers of ignoring the region’s “first class” healthcare when dishing out emergency cash awards.
This week, Westminster approved a £25m injection into social care for older people in areas where hospitals are facing the biggest problems over delayed patient discharges.
But of the 65 local authorities in England to receive the money, which must be spent by the end of March to ease pressure on wards by moving patients into care in the community, none are in the North East.
Ronnie Campbell, Labour member for Blyth Valley, claims the funding is “almost all southern based where local authorities haven’t been on the receiving end of same level of ConDem cuts as Northern authorities” which have still managed to provide “a first class service”.
And he accused the Government of bailing out councils who are failing to organise their discharges from hospitals properly, while not rewarding Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham and Newcastle councils who are facing up to the challenges.
“I’m very worried that local authorities like Northumberland are having their budgets hacked to bits and yet they’re coping with the transfer from NHS care to local authority care.
“They’re under enormous pressure to deliver other services to the general public yet Eric Pickles and Jeremy Hunt are rewarding councils which happen to have marginal constituencies in them.
“This doesn’t seem to be the ‘fair deal for Northumberland’ local Tories are trumpeting – in fact, this ranks up there with the 20% cut to transport funding and £3m further cuts to the council budget as an example of how the ConDems are targeting the North for purely party political reasons.”
The Department of Health emergency fund was authorised by a special ministerial committee, which has met weekly to help the NHS cope with winter pressures.
According to NHS England, one in five hospital beds was occupied over the Christmas period by someone ready for discharge but unable to move on because of blockages in the system. About a third of these blockages were attributed to lack of social care services.
The average cash boost for each of the 65 councils is £380,000, with money to be spent on extra support for people in their homes and short-term places in residential homes.
Responding to Mr Campbell, Coun Peter Jackson, Tory leader on Northumberland County Council, said:
“The truth is that this Government has fully protected NHS funding from day one.
“Rather than acknowledge this or the indication that our local health care services are performing much better than others across the country, Labour are once again resorting to scaremongering tactics and displaying financial illiteracy.
“Mr Campbell appears to be deliberately misleading the public by confusing local government and health care funding.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Department of Health added:
“We planned for winter earlier than ever this year. We constantly review what additional measures we can take to ease the pressure on services.
“In preparation for the Better Care Fund, the NHS and local authorities are already preparing joint plans to work together better, keep people well and avoid hospital admissions. This money helps speed up that work for this winter.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 Jan 2015
Reposted from Mirror on line
… and this is it isn’t it; the reality of tory cuts from social care putting further strain on the NHS which is already suffering from… yes you’ve guessed it, tory cuts.
Anyway the tories don’t care about that because most of them are millionaires so they can pay for private health care in their dotage and you can all go and play on the motorway as far as they are concerned.
A home-care worker today reveals she quit her job because she was only allowed to spend 15 MINUTES a time with frail pensioners.
Whistleblower Gillian Demet says she was left with no choice but to resign from Sevacare who provide more than 4,000 care workers nationwide.
Miss Demet, 62, said the cruel rule was putting patients’ lives at risk. “Where is the love, compassion and care that…
View original post 1,101 more words
Workers could be forced to pay at least £5 a week to private insurers to receive higher benefits, under new plans being considered by the Tories.
The proposal included in a report from the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange, who have close ties to the Tories, would see people who work more than 20 hours a week paying into a compulsory “collective insurance scheme”.
> As well as the compulsory National Insurance ?
Policy Exchange argue that this would help restore the “contributory principle” in the benefits system. The more workers paid into the private insurance scheme, the more they would be able to draw out if they lose their job.
> But surely National Insurance is the “contributory principle” in the benefits system ?
Contributory benefits accounted for 41% of all benefit payments in the 1970’s. This has now fallen to just 10%.
The scheme would be run by private insurers and fund managers, reports the Independent newspaper, but would be guaranteed by the Government.
According to the Policy Exchange the plan would save the Government around £2.6 billion a year and would replace the £72 a week contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
Workers who have been in employment for at least two years can currently claim contributory JSA for up to six months if they become unemployed, funded through National Insurance contributions.
The introduction of a “welfare account” would see workers National Insurance contributions reduced.
> But its not really a reduction if you’re having to pay out on a different scheme, is it ?
Payments from workers would raise £8 billion a year, £2 billion of which would go into a collective unemployment insurance scheme. The remainder would go into each persons individual “welfare account”.
Individuals who pay £5 a week would be permitted to withdraw £20 a week from their personal account to top up their unemployment benefit.
Higher earners would be able to pay as much as £100 a week into the insurance scheme, and could use the additional money to fund retraining or in the event of a personal emergency or ill-health. If they do did not use the money it would top-up their pension when they retire by £10,000.
The proposal is currently being considered by the Tories and could form part of their general election manifesto.
Author of the report Steve Hughes said:
“The current system does not reflect the contributions that people make through their working lives. It does not reflect changes to the modern-day labour market such as the rise in self-employment. And it does not meet the variety of needs that individuals have.”
“Successive governments have tried and failed to improve the system from the top down. This has created a culture of something for nothing, with people becoming reliant on the state. Radical reform is needed to restore public trust in the welfare state.
“Personal responsibility must be at the heart of a change to the system. A new collective insurance scheme alongside personal welfare accounts will form the backbone of these reforms.”
> A love the way they talk about personal responsibility when its a compulsory scheme, decided by others. Where’s the personal input ?
The scheme could eventually be extended to include maternity leave, mortgage interest payments and social care. In the long-term it could mark the beginning of the end for the Welfare State and usher in a privately run, or corporate welfare system.
> And isn’t that the bottom line ? Private insurance firms, fund managers… all the usual parasites will be lining up to take far more government funding than will ever be spent on benefits to the people that need it.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 15 Oct 2014
> When I attended to Jobcentre to sign-on last week, I was handed a form, told to fill it in and hand it to whoever signed me on. Reading through it (always read these things before filling them in) I began to suspect that all may not have been as it seems at first glance.
I’ll take you through it….
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO PEOPLE’S LIVES ?
PERSONAL AND PRACTICAL SUPPORT IS WHAT SOCIAL CARE IS ABOUT
In 2009 there were around 1.75 million paid jobs in adult social care, employing 1.6 million people. Its getting bigger. Adult social care continues to grow and its estimated that by 2025 social care may need up to 2.6 million workers to fill over 3 million paid jobs. We have training and jobs NOW.
> So, the first figures are from before the recession started, and the others are a guess at what things might be like in 11 years time (consider where you were in 2003 – did you think things could possibly get as bad as they are in 11 years time ? These figures are just wild guesses really).
Where will these jobs be, if they actually happen ? They obviously wont all be in the North East. Will any of them ? I don’t see a great demand in the current vacancies.
By volunteering to complete this form, you can help us to develop training – and help us to help you into work.
> Note the word volunteering – I was not told it was voluntary, in fact I was given the impression that I had to complete it.
Has anyone in the Jobcentre given you any information about Social Care ? Yes/No
Would you consider a career in Social Care ? Yes/No
If you have answered No, please explain why you would not consider this.
> Alarm bells ring ! Why should you have to explain ?
Social Care covers a very wide range of jobs – would you like to know more about the opportunities available ? Yes/No
Would you be interested in attending an Information Session about current Training and jobs available to you ? Yes/No
Would you like to discuss this further with your Work Coach ? Yes/No
Would you like more information emailed to you ? Yes/No
Do you have an existing DBS (CRB) check ? Yes/No
Nat Ins Number
Age range 18-24, 25-49, 50+
> Then comes some small print – very small print in this case…
The information we collect about you and how we use it depends mainly on the reason for your business with us. But we may use it for any of the Department’s purposes, which include – social security benefits and allowances, child support, employment and training, private pensions policy, and retirement planning.
We may get information from others to check the information you give to us and to improve our services. We may give information to other organizations as the law allows, for example to safeguard against crime.
To find out more about how we use information , visit our website http://www.dwp.gov.uk/privacypolicy or contact any of our offices.
Office use only – Interview with JCP Work coach arranged – date
> So there we are – what should we make of this ? Perhaps I’m just getting paranoid ?
On the other hand…
The most worrying question is why you should have to justify not persuing work in the Social Care sector.
Given the potential opportunities for various kinds of abuse, shouldn’t you also have to state why you did want to take this route ?
Once this piece of paper is in the system, it will inevitably wind up in the paws of your friendly Advisor – sorry, Work Coach – the same person who, in order to hit their targets, will be looking for any excuse to sanction you. And if you’ve declined this route, they might well try to twist things – refusing offers of work, refusing training, etc.
The other thing that occurs to me is that this might be a backdoor Workfare recruitment ploy. You actually might want training and a career in Social Care… what you might get is 6 months unpaid labour, mopping floors and emptying chamber pots for the greater profits of private enterprise.
As the form itself says – Social Care covers a very wide range of jobs. And who decides what falls within that range ? Guess (and it won’t be you…)
So all in all, I decided not to participate – the form itself suggests it’s voluntary. In the event, though, nobody asked me for the completed form anyway.
In the event of this happening again next time I sign, I shall decline immediately.
One other thing – the form does not carry a DWP identification code, which suggests this is not an official DWP document.
Is this just a local inititive or are these forms being handed out all over the country ? Anyone else had one ?
Oxfordshire county council has for the past four years pulled out all the stops to avoid passing on a 38% cut in its grant for services for homeless people. But now the authority says it has nowhere left to turn and is reluctantly planning to phase in the reduction, including stopping all funding for dedicated support for those with substance misuse problems.
“It’s not something I like to do, but we’re not unusual in doing it,” says John Jackson, the council’s director for social and community services. “The reality is that I have to protect services for people I have a statutory responsibility for.”
According to new research published today, Oxfordshire’s decision is emblematic of the state of adult social care services across England. Findings from a survey of adult social care directors reveal that half say that fewer people are getting services; barely one in three says they are protecting the size of the personal budgets older people and disabled adults receive to pay for their care and support, and six in 10 directors are braced for more legal challenges.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), which conducted the survey, has hitherto been notably measured – critics might say overly so – in its response to cuts ordered by the coalition government since 2010. But now it warns that the social care system is on the brink of becoming unsustainable. Its president, David Pearson, calls on wider society to say how far it is prepared to protect “countless vulnerable people who will fail to receive, or not be able to afford, the social care services they need and deserve”.
Recalling that earlier this year the National Audit Office (NAO) questioned whether councils were approaching the limits of their capacity to absorb pressures on social care budgets, Pearson says: “Our survey shows beyond doubt that we have reached the point where we are unable to absorb the pressures they, and our survey, have identified.”
The survey adds to the sense of financial crisis. Demands for extra cash for the NHS are mounting and this week the Local Government Association (LGA) warns that councils in England face a £5.8bn funding gap by March 2016 due to further cuts in grant – forcing 12.5% savings in 2014-15 alone – and escalating demand for services, particularly for older people.
The funding gap for adult social care on its own will be £1.9bn by March 2016, the LGA estimated. Next year, 2015, is “make or break” for social care with the introduction of the government’s Better Care Fund, expected to pool more than £5bn of existing funds from councils and the NHS to spend on integrated services that are designed to keep people out of hospital. Current government funding for social care is £14bn.
Pearson, however, says the scale of the challenge far outstrips any benefit that may come from integration. “It is not the directors’ job, but that of the country as a whole and its politicians, to debate how much, in times of the most severe adversity, vulnerable people should be protected from the consequences of that adversity by the introduction of new money into social care.”
Norfolk gives a flavour of the challenge. The county’s population is projected to rise 25% by 2033, but numbers of those aged 65-74 will increase 54% and numbers aged 75 or over will soar by 97%. Much of this growth will be in isolated rural communities in the north of the county.
Norfolk’s adult social services department already reports growth of 53% in referrals over the past five years, together with a near-tripling of demand for intensive homecare support of 10 hours a week or more, at the same time as it has been making £72m savings, which includes cutting the numbers of social work posts and paring back preventive services. Nevertheless, it says spending on frontline care has been protected.
With further cuts of £59m in Norfolk social services planned over the next three years, however, continuing to protect care is no longer realistic. Some £14m is coming out of people’s personal budgets, £6m from support for people with learning or physical disabilities and £4.5m from the contract with the council’s own residential care company.
Asked what the future holds, Sue Whitaker, Labour chair of Norfolk’s adult social services committee, says: “I have a feeling that trying to provide anything on top of what is required statutorily is going to be exceptionally difficult, if not impossible.”
This reflects the national picture painted by the Adass survey. Based on returns from directors in 144 councils with adult social care responsibilities, 95% of the total, Adass calculates that another £266m (1.9%) is being taken out of services in 2014-15, making a total 12% real-terms cut in spending since 2010 while demand for services has risen 14%. The net effect, therefore, is said to represent total savings since 2010 of 26% or £3.5bn.
Questioned about the likely impact over the next two years, 47% of directors say people who used services would get smaller personal budgets for their care and support; 48% say fewer people would be able to get services; 50% forecast greater pressure on the NHS; 55% expect care providers to face financial difficulty; and 59% anticipate receiving more legal challenges to cuts.
With most provision of care these days outsourced, 19% of directors admit not knowing if all their contractors paid the national minimum wage and only 3% are confident that all paid the higher, unofficial living wage. As many as 75% say they commission some homecare visits of just 15 minutes, although 90% of them say such visits were simply to check on an individual’s wellbeing or medication.
Richard Humphries, assistant director of policy at the King’s Fund thinktank, says the survey rings painfully true. “This is the consequence of the 2010 spending settlement that supposedly protected the NHS but left the social care system totally exposed,” he says. “It was all entirely predictable.
“What we are seeing now is a double whammy with both the NHS and social care simultaneously facing a crunch year next year. Most people cannot see how to get beyond this without extra money – not just money for more of the same, but for transformation of services. The Better Care Fund is OK, but it’s a very small step towards much bigger measures that are needed.”
Back in Oxfordshire, Jackson thinks the county council has a sustainable – if unpalatable – four-year plan for social care. His political boss, Conservative cabinet member Judith Heathcoat, has told the Oxford Mail she is “as comfortable as I can be” with the planned 38% cuts in housing-related support, which are part of a £64m savings package across the authority over four years.
Other savings will come through cheaper support for people with learning disabilities, moving them either out of residential care or perhaps from two-person flats to shared accommodation for five. Older people will also be hit: those attending health and wellbeing centres may next year be charged £20 a day.
Jackson’s fear is that growing numbers of legal challenges will be incurred over people’s statutory rights to care. “In the end we cannot not meet people’s care needs” he says. “We would want to do that morally anyway, but the law is very clear about it. We don’t need the courts to tell us that.”
This article was written by David Brindle, for The Guardian on Wednesday 2nd July 2014
Source – Welfare News Service, 02 July 2014
Unfair funding cuts which hit poorest areas hardest would come to an end under Labour – but councils would still be forced to make savings, shadow ministers have warned.
Shadow local government minister Andy Sawford said Labour would draw up a new funding formula to ensure towns and cities across the North East were no longer targeted for funding cuts.
It follows warnings from the region’s MPs and council leaders that vital services such as social care, policing and fire brigades are suffering because the region is losing money while wealthy areas in the south are actually gaining cash.
But Mr Sawford also warned that a Labour Governmentcould only change the way funding was distributed and could not promise an overall increase in local authority funding.
He also revealed that failing private firms running the Work Programme, a Government scheme to provide unemployed people with training and advice about getting a job, faced the sack when their contracts run out in 2016.
> Well, that’s all of them then. But you’ll notice that they aren’t actually going to abolish Work Programme. It’ll still be a failing programme whoever runs it, simply because it refuses to adress the reality of employment and unemployment in the UK today.
Their role could be handed to voluntary organisations or to the public sector, he said.
> Which probably means it’ll end up being handed to the Jobcentres to run. Oh joy…
The Association of North East Councils has warned that cuts in council budgets in the North East amounted to £467 for every household between 2010 and 2016 – compared to just £105 in the South East.
Mr Sawford, also shadow minister for the cities, said: “The commitment we have made is that we are going to review the formula to ensure that local authority grants are based on a proper needs assessment.
“We’ll then get into how we do that at a time where we are not able to reverse the cuts. It’s not going to be possible.
“So it will be a financially tight time for all local authorities around the country.”
> Mr Sawford, also shadow minister for the cities, said: “We’ll tell you that we’re going to look at things, but nothing will change. Did you really think it would, suckers ?”
One authority has warned it is concerned about the effect of Septembers Scottish independence referendum on its finances.
Sunderland City Council said councils in the North East already faced “an un-level playing field” because Scotland was able to raise its own funds and control much of its own spending.
And Scotland was likely to gain even more autonomy even if voters rejected independence.
> So maybe we – closer to Scotland than London – should seriously consider joining an independent Scotland.
In a submission to the Local Government Select Committee, Sunderland called for local authorities to have more independence.
The council said: “It is Sunderland City Council’s consideration that without greater fiscal devolution to and beyond cities and City Regions areas like Sunderland are at risk of being caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’, between an increasing autonomous and confident Scotland and an increasingly prosperous and powerful London and the South East.”
> See previous comment…
Source – Newcastle Journal, 24 Jan 2014