Saving Lives Global work on the front line of social care in Essex. We provide domiciliary care and home care support for older people and for adults who need additional support to be able to live independently. Although we work for private clients we also work for on a lot of care contracts that are either directly, or indirectly, funded by local authorities. As a result we are well aware of the pressure that has been put onto social care services in Essex.
There are a lot of different figures bandied about on what has happened to social care funding over the last few years. According to Age UK funding for social care has dropped from £8.1bn in 2005-06 to £6.3bn in 2014-15 nationally. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services say that £4.6bn has been cut from social care budgets nationally between 2010 and 2015. At the same time we have an increasingly aging population with ever greater care needs. The result has been a fall in the number of people receiving care in recent years as social care services have had to be withdrawn.
Social care funding covers a range of different types of care. It includes funding for space in care homes as well as the type of home care that we are generally involved in. This is often for older people, but can be for adults of any age who need help either in the short term or long term. The majority of the time this means visiting the homes of elderly people to help them get dressed, to make sure that they have had something to eat, and that they can wash and go to the toilet. As well as taking care of these basic needs our care staff do an equally important job of being a friendly face to people who are often lonely and vulnerable. In many cases our care workers will be the only people they speak to during the day.
Most home care and other social care is funded by local authorities. Essex currently spends £418 million on adult social care per year. This makes social care Essex County Council’s biggest area of spending but this is not enough to keep up with the increasing need. In order to maintain home care services in Essex at their current levels, and account for the aging population, more funding is urgently needed. Last year the government did announced an increase in funding for social care but the leader of Essex County Council has said that this will only amount to around £11 million extra, less than 2 weeks of funding.
To try and plug the gap Essex County Council is planning on adding 3% to council tax bills to fund adult social care. Essex County Council themselves admit this is not enough money to properly fund the services but it will help.
We see every day how important social care is to the people we visit. We also know that there are many more people out there who need quality care. It is our hope that Essex County Council, and the government, will be able to find a solution to fully funding care services so that we can provide people with the care they need.