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 31.

    On the "Today" programme it was reported that the cost of client assessments ranged from £800 to £2000. I see no reason why the inefficient councils should not improve.

    If assessments cost less then that is more money available for care. Simple really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    20.Human Cash Point

    "...It's not the governments responsibility to look after OUR parents..."


    Some people aren't anyone's parents.

    For a better understanding of family per se:

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The Audit Commission is still active? I thought it was part of the 2010-announced "bonfire of the quangos". Presumably the "savings" proposed from its decommissioning have not been realised, then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    My recent experience regarding my 92 year old mother revealed they were saving money by not responding to to 'phone calls or giving relevant information. Shambolic now so can only get worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    @16. Eddy: So true. I hope that, as we no longer use "cripple" to describe disabled people, we will recognise that it is just as humiliating to say "client".

    It gives the image of someone walking in and saying, "I'd like to buy one chance at life, please," and a man in a suit ringing up the sale.

    @10: Lower rate DLA was intro'd by Tories to enable community care. Guess what they just eliminated?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Hang on.....aren't all these guys employed by us to look after us, social care if you will. Sack em.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    @20.Human Cash Point

    What about a lifetime of paying taxes and NI? Unfortunatley when the state takes a minimum of 20% of your pay check for 100% of your career there is a responsibility there. Anything other is simply theft - stealing and throwing you to the wayside when you're done is medieval.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    The whole welfare budget needs reviewing particularly open ended housing benefit.

    There should be a strict time limit of 12 months and then it should be progressively reduced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Wild idea! Why don't the Audit Commission urge collection of unpaid taxes from corporations and individuals.

    Then use those billions on the elderly who helped create the foundations of this untaxed wealth through their hard work back in the day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    @4. Steve "they have the nerve to go on living..." Nice. I assume that you'll do the decent thing and die when you've lived the exact number of years that the state has cash for? Some people...cuh!

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    This is about councils wasting huge amounts of money not tories wanting to murder everyone over the age of 65.

    If public services spent money with the care the rest of us do then our lives would be transformed. Every time something is reported here hordes of misguided vegetarians clamour to issue their conspiracy theory. It's hardly surprising that things are so hard to get done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    It's not the governments responsibility to look after OUR parents, it's OUR responsibility! ...only where there is no family should the social system kick in. But as usual everyone thinks the government should look after children of lazy parents and parents of lazy children!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    It goes without saying that the usual narrow minded ageist clap trap is bound to be posted by some people on here. As for savings lets start at the other end how many trillions have been spent in Afghan throw in the odd billion for Libya a few more billion wasted on reform of the NHS another £32 billion to be wasted on a big train set.Meanwhile your gran parents cant afford to stay warm, Nice one

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    £300 million is a drop in the ocean compared to how much we, the UK tax payers have bailed out the failed banks.

    This government seems to draw the reigns in on certain fiscal matters yet have an open cheque book for others , as above.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I blame Pete Townsend for this.
    The Tory party policy think-tank has obviously adopted: "I hope I die before I get old" from "My Generation" as the basis for their social welfare policies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    "Client assessment". Says it all really.

    These are people, burghers, residents of the borough, often elderly who need the assistance of other people, and to which any half decent society would say they are entitled.

    We now have a position where nothing can be described other than in terms of a commercial transaction by some people. This insults and limits understanding if allowed to persist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The elderly have a right to be cared for in their old age. They have paid their taxes and NI, and most of them have worked, probably since before they even reached their teens.

    The government should have looked after their/our money and not squandered it, but instead of thinking of the long term and what the money is supposed to be for, unfortunately, just saw the £ signs

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    What happened to our caring society?

    That went out with Thatcher and this lot are a whole lot worse. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The 5% tax cut for high earners would have more than paid for this. Why can't we get our priorities right.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Perhaps if this country didnt pay out so much to those on benefits we could spend more to the elderly and the genuine ones that need it.


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