Headlines: February 1st, 2010

The Government has been warned that it has significantly under-estimated the cost of providing free personal care for elderly people who have high levels of need. The warning from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services is based on the findings of a survey it has carried out.

The ADASS findings have been published just before the Personal Care at Home Bill is due to be debated by the House of Lords. The Bill would mean adult social services departments having to make 250 million pounds in efficiency savings but ADASS says the survey shows the real cost of the policy could be a minimum of a billion pounds. The overall cost to local authorities, it believes, could rise to double the 250 million pounds originally put on it by the Government.

The Directors want an urgent meeting with the Department of Health. Association President, Jenny Owen said the Government had assumed that personal care needs could be met through an average 6.54 hours of care per week at 15.75 pounds an hour. “Our research shows that local authorities have estimated a much more expensive average care package for a user with high needs,” she added.

The number of existing self-funders in any area and the number of people qualifying as eligible under the Fair Access to Care criteria were often not known. If the final policy meant that people with critical care needs would not have to contribute to the cost, pressure on local government would clearly be well above the level estimated so far. Ms Own added: “Councils will additionally have to bear the costs of undertaking an increased number of assessments as people currently paying for their care enter the system to claim their new, free entitlement,”