Posted tagged ‘social care’

National problems

April 30, 2012

The best way to defend and reform social care lies in one of these books... I hope

This blog is written by staff members from local government and we are in general strong supporters of the localist principle. However, there are times when even localists like us recognise that local government is providing a framework that is no longer appropriate.

And so this is the case with Adult Social Care.

On Friday, the chairman of the LGA Sir Merrick Cockell published a letter from 400 council leaders urging action on Adult Social Care. When written up in the Daily Telegraph ran with the headline:

‘Elderly care funding will force closure of libraries, councils warn’

The letter itself was a little more technocratic. As the Telegraph reported:

They (the LGA) say that a “loss of momentum” would be “dangerous” on three fronts. “First it will exacerbate the problems of an already overstretched care system,” they say. “Second, and as a consequence, it will increasingly limit the availability of valuable local discretionary services as resources are drawn away to plug the gap in care funding. And third, it will fundamentally threaten the broad consensus that has built up around the Dilnot proposals from all quarters.

“The potential damage caused by any one of these dangers, let alone all three, could set the care reform debate back years.” Councils are required by law to provide services such as bin collection, schools, roads and care for the most vulnerable. Services such as leisure centres, parks, sports clubs, after-school clubs and some libraries are classed as “discretionary”.

Sir Merrick and the other leaders from the LGA who signed this letter are totally right that the impact of the increasing cost pressures from adult social care will impact non-discretionary services.

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That was the local government week that was

April 20, 2012

Some things to look at...

It was an interesting week for the WLLG crew as we collectively went through a little bit of a work related slump. We are keeping on keeping on and thankfully so is this week’s round up of local government related news and blogging.

Checking out the regular column of Richard Vize in the Guardian Local Government Network can be a joy. It can also be deeply sobering as last week’s piece was. Entitled: ‘Social care: the ticking timebomb at the heart of local government’ I think Richard got the issues pretty much spot on:

The government is getting into dangerous territory with social care, as funding, reform, rhetoric and reality combine to pull high-need, high-risk services dangerously out of shape.

The whole article is well worth a read as are some of the reports referenced within it.

Into the same debate came one of favourite bloggers, ermintrude2, who wrote this interesting piece entitled ‘Is there really ‘Crisis’ in Care?’. As she says:

I wonder about the use of the word ‘crisis’ though. There is a massive issue in relation to funding but this is not something that has been ‘magicked’ out of the air. Nor is it an issue which has suddenly arrived with this government. We have known about the needs of an ageing population for decades but each government of all parties have continued to try and ignore the fact that there will need to be a higher level of tax receipts or co-payment to meet the needs of people who require support from the state.

If it is a crisis, then it is a crisis created by lack of foresight both politically and economically – it is not a crisis created by the care sector or people who require care.

Her pieces are always worth reading and this one is no exception.

We’ve been fairly critical of national politicians who launch their local election campaigns with a bluster of non-local government related soundbites. Thus, we feel it’s necessary to give a few props to the Welsh Liberal Democrats who argued that:

“Welsh people know that if they want a better schools better services and better value for money the only way they are going to get that is by voting for a Welsh Liberal Democrat councillor.”

The squeeze on public spending meant “you really need to make sure that councils focus their resources on things that really make a difference”, she said.

“We have delivered better services, we have delivered better schools whilst at the same time making sure that we are not wasting tax payers money and we are keeping council tax rises low,” she said.

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Do we have a failing social care system or just a failing funding model?

January 9, 2012

Layers of complexity distilled

‘Welcome to the New Year!’ I said to myself washing my face and listening to the early morning news headlines on the 3rd January. That very morning, the first working day of the New Year an open letter from charities, faith-based groups and senior figures in the NHS and local government said that we had a failing social care system that must be reformed.

The letter to the Telegraph argued:

As a society we face a growing care challenge. We should celebrate the fact that we are all living longer lives, particularly disabled people and those with long-term conditions. But the unavoidable challenge we face is how to support the increasing number of people who need care. It is a challenge which we are failing to meet – resulting in terrible examples of abuse and neglect in parts of the care system.

This comes at huge cost to the dignity and independence of older and disabled people, but also to our society, family life and the economy. An estimated 800,000 older people are being left without basic care – lonely, isolated and at risk. Others face losing their homes and savings because of soaring care bills.

Disabled people are unable get the support they need to live their lives independently and be part of society.

Businesses are losing increasing numbers of experienced staff who are forced to give up work to care for older or disabled relatives. These carers can then be pushed to breaking point, providing round-the- clock care. Our NHS is also paying the price, as a lack of support leads to avoidable hospital admissions and then keeps older and disabled in hospital beds because they cannot be cared for at home.

We have a duty as a nation to change this – but it requires political leadership.

I’m no social worker but whenever we look at the council budget it is hard to avoid the feeling that the social care element of the budget is a ticking time bomb that at any time might just blow up a council’s budget; especially when cuts are being made.

However, I don’t think social care is failing; I think the funding of social care within the local government budget is failing.

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That was the local government week that was

January 6, 2012

New year and yet the same old picture

As we enter the New Year the people in WLLG towers are filled with optimism. The first week of the New Year has provided it’s usual mixed bunch of headlines and despite everything we are determined not to let it get us down and to follow the lead of the excellent Guardian Local Government Network and be more positive in 2012.

So, starting with the heavy stuff (that we shall not let get us down) the Daily Mail kicked off 2012 with a story about local government pay (quel surprise). This one was about local government pay increments, a topic we have discussed in the past. Here, the Mail ‘discovered’ that:

The survey of 188 councils shows that a shocking 72 per cent use annual increments to reward staff.

It means many Government employees are given more money on the basis of experience rather than performance.

These increments, known as ‘time served’ payments, are usually awarded either in April at the end of the tax year, or on the anniversary of the employee joining their council.

Local authority pay rates published by Unison, the public services union, show there are 49 distinct salary increments for staff earning between £12,145 and £41,616, no matter how well they are doing their job.

It’s hard to get as upset as the Daily Mail did about this but it does raise a pretty serious issue for local government. Are we serious about pay cuts and pay freezes including those for people with less than four years in a particular role with the understanding that this is fairer than just freezing the salary of those with long service?

And secondly do we believe that paying increments based on service time is better than putting in increments based on performance? I favour the latter but I think it is part of a fundamental decision that local government still needs to make.

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Promises promises, and of course some mindless retribution

June 6, 2011

In the past?

We tend, on this blog, not to write posts about social work despite it making up a sizable chunk of the budgets of the councils we work for. This is for a simple reason; none of us are social workers and the work they do is incredibly skilled and complicated.

This post is a rare exception but nothing in it should be taken as claiming any sort of social work expertise. (Incidentally, if you are looking for a blog with that sort of knowledge check out fighting monsters).

As many of you will be aware last week was a pretty big one for adult social care and the mainstream news with both the Southern Cross affair and the Panorama expose of Winterbourne View in the news.

Naturally, as this unpleasantness unfolded everyone looked to the Government; would they look to ‘bail out’ Southern Cross and what would they do about Winterbourne View?

I missed the Sunday morning TV shows but found a summary of the Government’s official response, courtesy of Paul Burstow MP, to Winterbourne View on the BBC website. The bits of the story that are direct quotes are as follows:

“It comes as a surprise to people that the statutory basis for the safeguarding of vulnerable adults in this country is much weaker than that which exists for children.

“I’m committed to follow through on some recommendations we have received recently from the Law Commission to implement statutory safeguarding rules that will require the police the NHS, social services to work together.”

and

Mr Burstow told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend that he did believe the chief executive of the CQC, Cynthia Bower, should resign over the failures.

This made me a little grumpy and here’s why: (more…)