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 331.

    As usual the elderly, unwell, and the disabled are the first to be highlighted as cannon fodder for the cuts. How about the drunks, obese and useless politicians instead for a change?

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    Robbie @328

    Topic is or was 'efficiency in assessment'

    But relevant context in 'our' distribution of income & austerity; in the 'representativeness' of decision-makers on policy; & in the training, independent professionalism, & organisation of care-need assessors

    Lucky to be employed? Inflation (& some pensions) 'racing ahead', & salaries pegged: we work to CUT future pension!

    Last... lights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    Tories = Nazis

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    Maybe there would be less need for social care if the government and BofE hadn't destroyed our finances and economy by creating billions of pounds out of thin air and giving it to banks, and politician's cronies. And if as the tories say, we lack a worth ethic, give us a reasonable interest rate on the meagre savings that those lucky enough to still be employed earn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    If it costs 2k to assess, we may as well bring A4e in.Even they can't cost more than that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    For the future, substantially increasing National Insurance would benefit the next generations in their retirement. At present our elderly citizens should NOT be penalised by local councils, as is happening. Elderly people living at home are definitely not receiving adequate "care in the community", the excuses of "budget cuts" are not acceptable. Review is needed urgently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    This is really good news! Saving money while providing the same level of service for the elderly.

    Makes a change from the usual saving money means people are going to suffer story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Just seen the ITN news - top 5% have made a killing as a direct consequence of Gideon's folly.
    More cutbacks required to keep the 5% drowning in dosh.
    Well done Tories.

  • 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.

  • Comment number 322.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    Leaguefan you reason is why the uk is failure

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    Work hard all your days until you aren't able to anymore.
    Then you realise the government squandered all your taxes and can't afford to look after you when you can't look after yourself.
    It's a disgrace and every time it happens, a tenner should be lopped of the pensions of MPs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    159.Expat Andy
    THEFT! . the robbery committed on the poor by elites in Parliament & their friends at the Bank of Eng. is through 'Quantative Easing'. printing money devalues the £, hurting savers, and forcing the price of essentials up. People living hand to mouth while Govt can more pay off debts with abundant but less valuable £
    Yes.... Dont Steal the Govt doen't like the competition

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    Who created the wealth of this country?
    The many.
    Who actually benefits from the wealth that was created?
    The few.
    We should appreaciate and thank support the ex wealth creators but instead they are treat like something that shouldn't exist or are an irritant.

    Shame on governments and shame on the population as a whole for accepting this state of affairs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    " It costs some councils £2000 to assess and interview a client..
    How in hells name?..a SME would go to the wall, with costs like that... Unbelievable."

    Totally believable. Sky high salaries, astronomical pensions, sick days, stress days, holidays, maternity leave, paternity leave, training days, union meetings, "working from home" days, etc.

    Productivity? Not a chance!

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    rg @313

    "Crime" will eventually increase, not of hate but of desperation

    Back to "Les Miserables"

    "Efficiency" in means-testing misses "the point"

    The economy is haemorrhaging, internally & externally

    As well as "brain and brawn", we need circulating money, "life blood" to all parts

    "Our" life-blood is being "saved for a fire-sale"

    Hunger and misery and anger: old story

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    My experience caring for my Mother, when her mental health declined rapidly is that you are totally on your own, and you get absolutely no help or advice. We had to pay for everything she recieved. She had more than £23000 so was entitled to nothing. As she had to pay for everything she should have received a rebate as she had been mis-sold National Insurance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    Do not panic. Help is round the corner. Investment from institutional investors is about to build hundreds of cheap houses to rent around the country to help the housing shortage and line their pockets. These hen hutch sized houses, built to the government approved size for a family but only big enough for a hamster are our saving grace. Well the done government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    I am sick and tired of constant reference to elderly and disabled people being a drain on the countries resources. Does this government feel no shame about thier constant digs and demonisation of the elderly and disabled. It just seems relentless!!!!! I just hope to goodness that the constant bad press does not increase hate crimes!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    It is a sad reflection on society when govenrment is expected to keep the ill and disabled in a nice cozy lifestyle that most people who are not ill and disabled could only dream of.


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