Headlines: October 29th, 2010

A leading public sector trade union has claimed that a report from the Audit Commission looking at social care budgets has created concern that some of the most vulnerable people could be hit further by Government cuts in spending. Meanwhile local government leaders have said personal budgets are a key part of providing the best possible social care to those who need it.

The Commission report warned that some councils would need to make ‘a significant effort’ to achieve the milestones agreed last year between the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Local Government Association and Department of Health. The target is for at least 30 per cent of eligible social care users, or their carers, having a personal budget by next April. An ADASS- LGA survey had shown only 6 per cent of total spending on adult social care has been allocated to personal budgets.

The union, Unite, said it feared cuts to the NHS and local government budgets would mean thousands of vulnerable people not being sufficiently supported to take control of their own social care funding. Gail Cartmail, the union’s assistant general secretary for public services, questioned how councils lagging behind with their social care budget programmes could build the capacity to catch up. “Add to this the combined impact of the NHS picking up the slack from spending cuts to community-based support, the 20 billion pound efficiency savings demanded by ministers and the disruption and expense of the coalition’s NHS privatisation reforms, and you have a very toxic cocktail,” she said.

The Local Government Association said the Commission’s study was carried out six months ago and that since then much progress had been made by councils.