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 291.

    Wish tha Audit Commission would examine the potential savigs we could make by reducing them number of MPs,and Lords by 50%.
    Or is it only working people who get made redundant?

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    The government should have a real good look at the Mobility Allowance. I know of at least two people who should not be receiving it. In many cases the car is driven by a spouse for going to work or another event. When you calculate the amount of money taxfree that can be claimed some people are far better off financially than someone just living on their pensions.,

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    I've paid tax/NI via PAYE all of my working life and continue to do so.

    I also pay VAT @20% on top of fuel duty. I also pay 5% VAT on heat/light bills. I pay Council tax for refuse collection, police, schools and the salaries of borough, parish and central councils who duplicate everything yet spend more money on accountants who ensure councils are unaccountable and their websites are useless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    287. "They're not talking about "cutting" anything; merely clarifying that some councils provide the same level of care as others, but for far less, and this should be emulated."

    I think people are reading between the lines a bit. But who knows? Maybe our government will trust their employees to be more efficient *without* withdrawing funds. Maybe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    It seems like the top-rated commentators here (and the hive-mind) haven't even read the article at all. They're not talking about "cutting" anything; merely clarifying that some councils provide the same level of care as others, but for far less, and this should be emulated.

    Where is this country when reading beyond the headline is just too much effort?

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    "I face declining job prospects, expensive housing, zero pension and the likelihood of working into my 70s."

    To be fair, you'll be a lot fitter to work at 70 than people your grandparents age were.

    I wish we could just end the uncertainty over retirement ages. If we have 40-50 years to get used to the idea of retiring five years later than we expect to now, I doubt we'll care that much!

  • Comment number 285.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    277. "Charge the children if they are not caring for their own parents, having them live with them etc."

    I have an aunt who is well into her 70s, and really struggled to look after her mother, who was 93 when she died. As our population ages, we're not going to be able to just dump the elderly on their kids; their kids may be elderly too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    @ borophil.

    Bitter, yes, but not for the reasons you stated. I am in my 20s. I face declining job prospects, expensive housing, zero pension and the likelihood of working into my 70s. I don't want to be taxed to the hilt to pay for elderly care for people who could fund it themselves. And I do save. A lot. Half my income goes into savings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    £300 million?
    Good Lord. That's a fiver each. Couldn't we have a whip round?

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    7. Mrs Vee
    "We were promised care "....from the cradle to the grave" ".

    A promise built on a lie, that is. The wily Nye Bevan sold the idea by calling the tax "National Insurance". There's no such thing. Some people say "We paid in" as if they were contributing to something. The NHS gets its money from car tax as much as anything else.

    It's about time we had a proper debate about this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    Care for the sick and elderly in the UK is scandalous. My late Mother was treated appaulingly by our local social services and I was told bluntly there is a cash limit per patient which comes first, her needs are secondary. The Old and the Sick are not vote winners for the Conservatives so what money there is gets diverted to Maternity care and Paediatrics to try to win votes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    James @277
    "Last resort"

    Given fair income-distribution, we would not need to be discussing means to build a Ramp, buy a Wheel-Chair, pay for some Home Help… and 'assess need' for the more marginally impaired or otherwise 'busy', to be helped with an infinity of minor matters then reasonably treatable as 'choices'

    Meanwhile, we battle to put limits on the down-side of 'life by lottery'

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Andy @263
    "a commercial brain"

    If only we could put such a brain "in harness", in every team and every community, within Equal Democracy, to build the world that we all would truly enjoy

    We would not wish direction to be by those 'purely' in-it-for-themselves, of course

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    Charge the children if they are not caring for their own parents, having them live with them etc. This is an attitude problem and as a society we need to regain some older values, looking after our own before second incomes cars and holidays. It is not and should not be the State picking up family duties. That should be for the last resort for those with no family left.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    I love it. Government regulates the housing industry, government regulates the financial industry. We're in a massive mess, so what does every ask for? More government regulation & finance. When will we learn that Keynsian economics & central economic planning failed. We need Austrian economics, free-markets & freedom, not statism & socialism!

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    My experience of public sector work is that duplication of jobs is rarely at the level of providing the service. It's usually in the tiers above.

    My experience of privatisation is that companies bid low to get contracts they can't handle knowing that they can hold people to ransom and demand more money later. Given the choice, I'd rather my tax money went to an Assistant Biscuit Monitor.

  • 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 273.

    267. Andy - management used to be accountable, but 30 years of 'evolution' (survival of the richest) has left us where you describe - teflon management, and a dumbed down ("results oriented") education business. Common sense and rational thinking unfortunately went the way of the dinosaurs, decision making went to 'the special ones'

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    Care for our elderly is a disgrace.Slash the number of Tax-Payer dependent employees. Ban Gold Plated Pensions for the Tax-Payer Dependents. Stop forthwith the overseas aid. Accept that in many respects we are a third world country. We cannot afford it. Then privatise care for the elderly using only English speaking nurses, with the government picking up the tab.


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