More concerns over social care as staffing cuts likely to reach £1.5 million
Barnet’s Labour councillors have called for more lobbying of the Government to resolve the social care funding crisis after learning that an additional £725,000 may have to be cut from Barnet Council’s social care staffing budget, following immediate cuts of £795k in the next two years (which was agreed at the budget Council meeting on 5 March). This will mean £1.5 million or 10 per cent of the staffing budget will be cut over the next five years unless social care funding is urgently put on a more sustainable footing. Delays to the publication of the government’s Green Paper on adult social care have left councils short of the necessary funding required to sustain an effective social care service.
An update report on the Adults Social Care Delivery Plan states that “The additional funding announced in the autumn 2018 budget will help balance the council’s adult social care budget in 2019/20. However, beyond this there is no certainty of funding and insufficient funding in the system to meet levels of demand.”
Labour councillors on the Adults & Safeguarding Committee highlighted that the Adults revenue underspend of £424k could be used to mitigate some of the staffing cuts, but this was rejected at the Committee meeting (18 March). The Labour councillors voted against the delivery plan as a result.
In September last year, Barnet’s Conservative councillors refused a Labour motion to commission a report into adults’ social care staff shortages, despite being advised there were 30 frontline vacancies and a number of back office vacancies (Adults & Safeguarding Committee, 20 Sep). Drastic cuts to plug a massive £9m council budget gap have meant staff vacancies are not being filled, even though demand for social care from older people with increasingly complex needs is growing.
Other risks include the council’s move next year to offices in Colindale with limited parking, which has been flagged as an issue of concern by social care staff who need to drive around the borough; also the impact of Brexit which could result in a shrinking social care workforce.
Skills for Care has predicted that there is a need to see a 44% rise in the number of additional social care jobs in the UK by 2030.
Labour’s Lead on Adults & Safeguarding, Cllr Reema Patel said:
“On these figures, almost 10% of the funding for the adult social care workforce will have disappeared by 2025. That means remaining social workers and front-line staff, many of whom already live on the breadline, will have to do even more work for less pay . Despite the fact that we have seen over a decade of austerity, weak Tory local leadership refuses to challenge the national government, demand more funding for social care, and ensure that Barnet’s residents receive the quality later life care they deserve. ”