Posted: Thursday 24th January 2019
The number of people aged 80+ in Hertfordshire is expected to top 100,000 in 2035, an increase of 71% from 61,200 in 2017.Fair and sustainable financial settlement for adult social care is crucial as are the reforms to improve care quality and to support the NHS as our population ages. Adult social care services provide essential support to working age and older people with disabilities, mental health problems, sensory loss, and general frailty. These life-critical services are vital for local people to maintain their independence, dignity and to have a choice of the type and location of their care.
For 2018/19 our spending on older people’s care and support is budgeted as £154m per annum (care home fees, homecare, day services etc.) and we expect to collect £36.5m from those older people as a contribution towards the cost of their care. At present, we understand it is not the Government’s intention for the anticipated Green Paper to cover services for younger disabled people aged 18-64, including those with learning and/or physical disabilities. For 2018/19, Hertfordshire will spend £183m to support these people and collect £11.3m in care charges. Most councils now spend more on care for younger disabled people than for older people. The projected costs to meet the needs of younger people in the long term are greater than for older people; any sustainable funding solution for adult social care would need to include both cohorts of individuals.
The fragility of the private care market, in Hertfordshire and nationally, is recognised and well documented. The National Minimum Wage, pension schemes, inflation and additional regulatory burdens all contribute to greatly increased costs for care providers. A competitive labour market where the care sector is not seen as the employer of choice adds to the fragility. In Hertfordshire we have worked hard to celebrate the quality of care and protect the county’s adult social care budgets, providing targeted inflationary increases to our care providers’ year on year, but we are now seeing a more significant workforce shortage and care businesses exiting the market. The current system of short-term government grants on an ad-hoc annual basis does not provide the financial stability required, nor is it sufficient to deal with the pressures being experienced.