Adult social care services in England will soon be `unsustainable’ if current budgetary pressures continue, and significant measures are not taken to inject new money into local social care economies, according to  the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services as they release their annual budget survey.

Based on returns from 95% of adult social services departments, it shows that the cash invested in services will reduce by a further 1.9% in 2014-15: a sum equivalent to £266 million.

ADASS President David Pearson said: “This is the third year of continuing cash reductions and the fifth year of real terms reductions in spending. Since 2010 spending on social care has fallen by 12% at a time when the number of those looking for support has increased by 14%t. This has forced departments to make savings of 26% in their budgets – the equivalent of £3.53 billion over the last four years Nothing can be starker than the truth these figures point to.

He added: "In March this year the National Audit Office said that ‘need for care is rising while public spending is falling, and there is unmet need. Departments do not know if we are approaching the limits of the capacity of the system to continue to absorb these pressures.’ Our survey shows beyond doubt that we have reached the point where, as the NAO feared, we are unable to absorb the pressures they, and our survey, have identified. Substantial additional financial burdens will flow from implementing the Care Act. These will include the welcome additional rights to be given to carers; implementing the Dilnot proposals, and responding to the Supreme Court judgement on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. But combined with these budget reductions, as resources reduce and need increases, directors are increasingly concerned about the impact on countless vulnerable people who will fail to receive, or not be able to afford, the social care services they need and deserve.”

The survey shows that directors "feel gloomy" about the future, with the pace of adult social care savings projected to continue at an accelerated trajectory for 2015/16. This will create further significant instability at the crucial time when the Care Act reforms and the Better Care Fund plans are due to be implemented.

  • Nearly 50 per cent think that fewer people will be able to access care services, 
  • An equal number believe that people will get smaller personal budgets, 
  • Over a half think care providers are facing financial difficulty, and 
  • Nearly 60 per cent think there will be increased costly legal challenges. 
Richard Humphries, assistant director of policy atthe King's Fund: ‘This survey once again highlights the enormous pressure on social care budgets. Despite the best efforts of local authorities, this will result in further cuts to services and fewer people receiving support. Worryingly, half themoney being transferred from the NHS budget to support better joint working between health and social care is now being spent on protecting social care services from budget cuts, rather than driving integrated care and other service changes needed tobetter meet the needs of patients and service-users."