According to the Audit Commission, the public spending watchdog, councils in England could save £312m annually on adult social care if they carried out client assessments more efficiently. The watchdog said some councils carried out reviews at the same quality as others but in a more cost effective way.
The commission said any chance for councils to save money in this area should be “pursued enthusiastically” but councils said savings could not offset a deficit of billions of pounds in care budgets. Councils in England are responsible for helping with elderly care, the seriously ill and the disabled. However, the cost of assessing these people, to find out what level of assistance is needed, varies widely.
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“.
The commission found that there were wide variations in the costs of assessing and reviewing clients. This occurred while undertaking a similar volume of work and achieving the same standards of quality. The commission said the potential savings could fund the annual home care of 20,000 older people.
The watchdog said, many councils would be able to make substantial savings by identifying and eliminating differences in costs. The Local Government Association said councils always worked hard to offer the best value for money but it said local authorities faced a considerable cash shortfall because of reduced government funding and a growing elderly population.