Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Devon joins call to give councils more time to prepare for social care reforms [October 2022]

The press release issued by Devon County Council on 6 October 2022.

Our lead councillor for adult social care has echoed a call from the County Councils Network (CCN) today (Thursday 6 October), asking the government to delay the introduction of new social care reforms, planned next year.

The government reforms are due to be introduced next October.  Their intention is to enable more people to receive financial support for adult social care, but councils are concerned that it will significantly increase costs to deliver services, due to increased demand, at a time when there is already a huge shortfall in the number of care workers.

The CCN call it a ‘perfect storm’.  Their research suggest that inflation is driving up the cost of providing social care to unsustainable levels.  By next year inflation could add £3.6 billion to the cost of providing social care in county areas.

And in Devon, we are currently forecasting an overspend in adult social care of £5.6 million this financial year, and between £30 million to £40 million over the next 10 years.

The CCN say that loading extra pressure on an already-teetering system to prepare for the introduction of the reforms could worsen services by impacting on the availability and quality of care packages.

They’re calling for the introduction of reforms to be delayed to provide local authorities adequate time to prepare, particularly to recruit the necessary workforce and to review their operations and digital infrastructure to manage increased assessments, at a time of severe backlogs and workforce shortages.

They’ve also said that the delay must be backed by additional funding from government, to address immediate pressures within social care.

Cllr Martin Tett, Adult Social Care Spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said,

“Loading these reforms onto a system that is already in crisis could worsen care services by the time these reforms to ‘fix’ social care are introduced. Newly eligible people next October could face substantial waits for care assessment whilst the quality of care for those already provided for could worsen as councils struggle with the extra demand amidst rising costs.

“Councils remain committed to supporting these reforms, but it is imperative councils have the time to mitigate the pressures they will create, recruit a sufficient number of staff, and stabilise services in the short term. If not, these reforms could be unworkable at inception.”

Councillor James McInnes, Cabinet Member responsible for adult social care, said:

“With the shortage of adult social care workers, the national and local challenges in recruiting for those posts, on top of the anticipated increased demand for adult social care arising from these changes, and associated increase in costs to deliver those services, at a time of huge budget pressures….yes, we need more time.

“The government’s aims to enable more people to receive financial support are laudable, but they are unaffordable unless Ministers provide hard-pressed councils with vital additional funds.

“But as I say, it’s not just about the money. The reforms create and exacerbate real workforce challenges that we are already faced with. There are already too many people waiting too long for assessment, and we’ll have the responsibilities for many more people than we are now.”