Audit Commission urges social care savings of £300m

People inside a day centre for the elderly The commission said there were wide variations in the costs of assessing clients

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Councils in England could save £312m annually on adult social care if they carried out client assessments more effectively, the Audit Commission says.

The public spending watchdog said some councils conducted reviews at the same quality as others but more cheaply.

The commission said any chance for councils to save money in this area should be "pursued enthusiastically".

Councils said efficiency savings could not offset a shortfall of billions of pounds in care budgets.

'Crucial element'

Every council in England is responsible for helping with the care of the elderly, the seriously ill and the disabled.

But the cost of assessing these people, to find out what level of assistance is needed, varies widely.

In 2010/11, English councils did about 1.8m assessments of people's needs and reviews of the resulting care, at a cost of £2.2bn - 12% of gross spending on adult social care, the commission said.

Audit Commission managing director Andy McKeon said: "Assessments and reviews are a crucial element of social care, enabling individuals' needs to be properly identified and met.

"However, our evidence suggests that councils can spend less and still do an excellent job in helping people receive the care that they need.

"As councils struggle to meet the needs of a growing older population with less cash, any opportunity to save money and redirect it into care should be pursued enthusiastically."

Quality standards

In its report, the commission found that some councils spent about half the amount of other councils on each assessment and review.

This was done, the commission said, while undertaking a similar volume of work and achieving the same standards of quality.

It said the potential savings could fund the annual home care of 20,000 older people.

Many councils would be able to make significant savings by identifying and eliminating the causes of differences in costs, it added.

The Local Government Association said councils were always working hard to offer the best value for money.

But it said local authorities faced a massive cash shortfall because of reduced government funding and an increasing elderly population.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    Its strange but we seem to have priced ourselves out of everything , people want huge wages ( who can blame them look at mps and bankers ) , its got so you have to be wealthy to be looked after, ,people cant get jobs that pay enough to live on would our mps work for a pittance . , used to be one household and the man earned enough for his family . i dont get what happened buts is pretty sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    At one time there used to be Council run care homes for the majority of the elderly and Privately run care homes for those who chose to pay for their care. Following the care in the community policy back in the 1980/1990s and privatisation of many care homes on the premise of saving money, standards fell and many old people had to sell their homes to pay for a few years of "care". So sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    My wife works in this area and I can confirm that in some areas it is the administration and management of the process that is totally abismal with no joined up thinking or communication plus huge duplication of uneccessary jobs. A typical example of public sector incompetance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Care for the elderly is a national scandal surpassing the banking scandal and the politicians expenses. Nobody is saying it should be free but a dementia diagnosis appears to be a green light for the state to pillage hard earned money. It is relentless whether its local authorities, courts or the Office of the Public Guardian. My father paid tax for his entire working life - where did that go?

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Local authorities & the NHS need to work better together in the interests of the patient. People are often the last thought when the agencies are arguing among themselves about whether care is social or medical with both trying to palm the bill off on the other.


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