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 311.

    In our area assessments are done by about three different people, one to assess financial situation, one to assess how much care is needed and when and someone else to discuss what help can be provided. Surely a more centralised approach with just one contact would be cheaper.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    ruminations @307

    To visit poor applicants at £800-£2,000 a time, to assess all but major needs... unenviable & embarrassing

    Even for major works, or on-going intensive care, cheaper ways to audit: skilled verification of prior NHS summary

    The minor, should be within the means of all, given Equal Democracy

    Better to ensure fair incomes: 'Big Society' for 'extras', not basics

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    I am old, sorry but i cannot work out what you young un's are doing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    Editors v Moderators: on 'needs assessment efficiency'

    OFF-topic Picks:
    Social care @1
    Forced asset sales @5 "when more civilised?"
    Unless no family, no govt responsibility @20
    We are letting down elderly @36
    Blame elderly, unleashed Thatcher @39

    ON @69 with "NHS & SS duplication"
    ON @95 topic reminder!
    OFF @152,209
    ON @212,221
    OFF @227
    ON @274
    OFF @293

    Random harmless here?
    But in Moderation?

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    They run this story on Today prog..

    It costs some councils £ 800 to assess and interview a client..

    It cost other councils £ 2000 to asses a client..

    £ 2000 in hells name...?..a SME would go to the wall, with costs like that...


  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    When I was a wee lad, families looked after their own unless there was a medical need covered by the NHS.. N.I. payments have NEVER been geared for 'Social Care' and if families were more willing to look after elderly relatives (the people that fed, clothed and housed them), instead of waiting to get their hands on the house, maybe there would not be such an issue!

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    Why don't the Conservatives just not bring in compulsory euthanasia? Then they will tell you your granny is going going to a better place. Private nursing homes are nothing more than a way of profiting from the elderly
    The BBC are total cowards they remove not only comments which are not favourable to Prince Harry but they now remove the whole thread. nothing is said Bring the Army into Disrepute

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    At the same time as giving the most wealthy a £40,000 a year bonus, failing to tax the wealthy corporations and doing cushy lunch time deals with Vodafone.

    This corrupt government is trying to pinch pennies by cutting back on social care.

    Look why don't they just bring back "work" and "poor" houses it would be quicker than this slow death of our rights to have our tax and NI spent wisely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    I think Councils need to take a very hard look at how cost effective their existing arrangements are. I have had the experience of dealing with social workers who administer care for the elderly in sorting out arrangements for infirm elderly relatives. In both cases they were about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. The only things that got done were the ones we arranged ourselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Keep up the news stories about increasing demands from an elderly population and the euthanasia crowd will offer their solutions. Government cuts, austerity, all bunkum and unnecessary austerity. Don't believe me: watch the cash turn up for overseas aid or a humanitarian war in Syria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    People who can't afford houses because they are absurdly out of kilter with our low wage economy should look after their parents - why should the state be responsible - for anything other than letting their chums get rich and not prosecuting white collar crime

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    Perhaps I'm just too inquisative, but the report doesn't state which coucils are top or bottom, just gives two councils as case studies.
    Labour V Conservative? North V South? Poorer areas V more affluent?
    I'd like to think that I was getting value for money from my council since I pay council tax but it looks like we'll never know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    And, as always happens in this most unfair and unjust country, the poorest and most needy will suffer most. It's a tory paradise. So, get carving boys - its only the poor who'll suffer

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    It is the quality of the assessment that matters but this need not mean more cost. It is so much determined by the skill and experience of the social workers, most of whom do a good job despite their management.

    This report asks that councils do better in these assessments. The taxpayer expects value. However, the councils then start moaning about budget cuts. This was not the point of the report

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    To 34.mayfair69, 104.steve1955, 4.Steve, 139.Jon and many more:

    Just how selfish can you get - I am sure when you all reach old age your opinions will drastically change. The elderly have paid tax and NI all their lives and deserve to be well looked after in their old age.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    They would save a whole lot more if they stopped paying inflated salaries to their higher echelons and reduced there pension contributions to same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    It's impossible to keep politics out of this. Politics and politicians affect every aspect of our life. Furthermore media drives politics.

    The most relentless aspect of all media, including the BBC, (who I would normally defend) are pushing the relentless ageist agenda that is no different to brainwashing adverts.

    In other words, if you demonise the elderly long enough you will create hate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    @136 - Have you thought of emigrating then ?

  • 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 292.

    This HYS debate is still about social care of the elderly, seriously ill and the disabled.

    As far as I can see, from the the Audit Commission website, whose activities are being out-sourced to private companies - it's mandate is being driven by those in Parliament who imagine they will be impervious to what life will throw at them - yet expect best care from the NHS trained doctors and staff.


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