New research shows massive economic benefits from providing social care to disabled people
· Every pound spent on preventative and community services generates benefits to people, carers, local and central Government worth an average of at least £1.30.
· Spending Review ‘perfect opportunity’ to plug gap in social care funding, say five major disability charities
Five leading charities have revealed that investing in social care prevents disabled people falling into crisis, and as a result, leads to substantial economic benefits.
The in-depth study conducted independently by Deloitte establishes that every £1 spent on services like support in the community, housing and communication support generates benefits to people, carers, local and central Government worth an average of £1.30.
The study comes as the social care crisis debate about who gets care and how it’s funded continues to make the headlines, with the Government’s Care Bill being scrutinised in Parliament.
The experts analysed four distinct services used by disabled people who need a lower level of care – which is often just a few hours-a-week and could be help with budgeting and timekeeping.
Totalling up the costs in comparison to the benefits and savings,the ‘returns’ ranged from 18% to 53%. Modelling those findings nationally produces benefits to the Exchequer, local health and care commissioners and individuals of at least 30%.
The benefits come from
preventing people’s needs for escalating and relying on more costly public services. Advice and support for everyday activities from budgeting, and communication to help in the home increases quality of life and engagement with society. Reduced dependency on family members and carers can enable them to return to employment.
The research – Ending the Other Care Crisis: Making the case for investment in preventative care and support for disabled adults – was commissioned by The National Autistic Society, Mencap, Scope, Sense and Leonard Cheshire Disability. The charities warn that these benefits to the individual and society will be lost if the Government sets the bar on who receives care too high.
Earlier this year, the same five charities lifted the lid on the scale of the crisis revealing that care for disabled people was underfunded by £1.2 billion.
They found that more than 100,000 disabled people will be left without essential support to get up, get dressed and get out of the house if the Government fails to underpin its social care reform by making sure all those who need support get it; and then back that up with an injection of funding.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said:
“The financial case is crystal clear: the Government must act now to address the inherent flaws in the social care system and ensure people with autism and other disabilities receive the support they desperately need.
“Currently many people with autism miss out on this support as their difficulties aren’t recognized; in most cases eligibility criteria are set too high and assessors lack the training in the disability they need to understand its daily impact.
“As a result many people with autismcaneventually plunge into crisis, meaning they require very expensive and intensive support. This could be easily averted if simple and relatively low-cost options are put in place in the first instance, such as befriending services or social skills training. This would not only benefit the public purse but also have a tremendous human impact, transforming the lives of thousands of people for the better.”
Simon Parkinson, Director of External Relations and Communities at learning disability charity Mencap, said:
“The right care and support can transform the lives of people with a disability and their families, providing them with opportunities to be independent and active members of society.
“But if the threshold for care is set too high, over 100,000 disabled people could be forced to go without the care and support they rely on to meet even their basic needs, such as help to eat, wash or get dressed.
“We can’t afford to take away this right. Failing to meet people’s needs will not only have a hugely negative impact on the welfare of disabled people and their families, but also wider financial implications for the taxpayer in the long run.”
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the disability charity Scope, said:
“The social care system is in crisis. We already know the human benefits of ensuring people get the support to live independently in the community. Now we know the economic benefits too
“We need a bold response from the Government.
“This research presents indisputable evidence that the proper funding of social care prevents disabled people getting into crisis and makes good economic sense.
“Right now a rationing of care means disabled people have to reach crisis point before they get basic support, and this is needlessly costing the UK economy at a time when there isn’t a penny to spare.
“The Care Bill could still deliver a care system that we can be proud of. But the plans are fatally undermined by the possibility of the threshold being set too high, and a critical lack of funding. A cap on costs, national eligibility, better integration of health and care are positive moves but they will mean nothing for the 100,000 disabled people pushed out of the system.
“If the Government genuinely wants to deliver a fit and proper social care system that prevents disabled people from reaching crisis, it needs to ensure eligibility is set at the right level, and there is an emergency injection of funding that is guaranteed to reach frontline services.”
Richard Kramer, Deputy Chief Executive at Sense, said:
“This report highlights the damaging consequences of providing inadequate social care to people with disabilities as well as the true financial costs. Cutting corners with care will not save the tax payer money; instead it will result in additional costs at a later stage and continue to have a devastating impact on the lives of disabled people.
“At Sense we know that deafblind people often have complex and diverse needs and these needs must be recognised by the social care system. Ultimately providing good care saves money and makes a huge and long-lasting difference to the lives of those with disabilities and their families and carers.”
Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said:
“This report shows the devastating consequences- not only financial but human – of disabled people being denied the care and support they need. It shows clearly that ‘scrimping’ on care – as well as being morally wrong – does not even save money in the long run, and may end up costing the taxpayer a lot more.
“At the moment, thousands of disabled people are being forced to go through life without support to carry out essential tasks like washing, dressing, eating and getting up in the morning. No-one in this day and age should have to live like this.
“We are calling on the Government to make sure that enough funding is put in place for all disabled people to be given the vital support they need. In an age of austerity every penny of our taxes should go to those who need it most.”
The Care Bill and debate over eligibility
The Government’s Care Bill seeks to tackle the crisis in care by introducing a cap on costs, a new means-testing threshold and national eligibility to end the postcode lottery in care.
But the plans will also raise the bar for eligibility to social care
This will, according to academics at the London School of Economics, leave 105,000 disabled people outside of the system altogether.
A third of the people that receive social care are disabled.
But some 69,000 disabled people assessed as having social care needs have already fallen out of the system as councils get to grips with a funding black hole of £1.2 billion. Some 87% of councils have set eligibility at a higher level for 2013/4.
The Care Bill looks set to apply this higher level across all councils. This move will take the total outside the system to 105,000.
Currently disabled people are assessed on a four-point scale – low, moderate, substantial, critical – with just people above a threshold, which is currently decided by local social services, getting help.
In recent years hard up councils have tightened their criteria meaning that disabled people might need more frequent hospitalisation, be unable to continue living in their own home, more likely to experience depression and fall into debt or lead a less healthy lifestyle.
The care crisis – latest developmentsThe Government’s plans are backed-up by a recent announcement about greater integration between health and social care. The proposals include making joined-up and coordinated health and care the norm by 2018 and agreeing a definition of what people say good integrated care and support looks and feels like.
But disability charities argue that, like the plans in the Bill, these proposals will be undermined by a lack of funding. A recent King’s Fund report warned that the cap on costs is becoming ‘irrelevant’ as rationing of care means only those in the most critical condition get support.
An inquiry comprising a cross-party panel of MPs and Peers, led by Baroness Campbell a well-known disabled peer and Heather Wheeler, an influential Tory MP, called on the Government to use NHS cash to help fund social care to fix a system that is devastating lives. The Inquiry found that a chronic lack of funding means that disabled people are left to reach crisis point before they get support for the basics in life – getting up, washed, dressed, having a home-cooked meal and being able to leave their homes.
The chairs argue that this has a human cost on disabled people as well as a financial cost because interventions later in the day are more expensive.
The Inquiry is recommending that cash from the ring-fenced NHS budget should be made available through Local Health and Wellbeing Boards for councils and the NHS to jointly spend on preventative social care to help stop disabled people reaching crisis in the first place.
The inquiry follows a growing dossier of evidence that suggests the social care system for disabled people is in crisis.
Research by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) revealed that £2 billion has already been cut from council social care budgets over the past two years and a further £800 million is likely to be cut in the next year. This is despite growing demand for social care support.
Meanwhile a Joint Committee of both houses scrutinising the draft care and support bill, which warned the Government’s plans will fail without a greater focus on prevention and integration.
Earlier this year, five charities lifted the lid on the scale of the crisis revealing that care for disabled people was underfunded by £1.2 billion and that some 40 per cent of disabled people didn’t receive the support they needed to get up, get washed, get dressed and get out.