The needs of Birmingham’s most vulnerable adults will still be met despite social services budget cuts of £191 million, a city council official has promised.
Peter Hay, the Strategic Director of Adults and Communities, plans to save money by helping more people to live in their own homes for as long as possible, avoiding the need for expensive residential and nursing home care.
By working with the NHS, social services is seeking to identify people most at risk of having falls, developing dementia or having a stroke. Mr Hay said the aim was to make sure help was given at an earlier stage, enabling more people to retain their independence.
The council is investing in a Telecare service, providing personal alarms and electronic sensors for 200 adults a week, which will cut costs with fewer daily visits required from home care staff.
Other proposals to cut the cost of social care include telling thousands of people who ask the council for assistance to seek help from voluntary sector groups instead, as well as a campaign to maximise the take up of state welfare benefits by older people.
Mr Hay has launched the most extensive consultation campaign in the council’s history in an attempt to identify ways of saving £65 million in 2012-13.
Plans are already in place to achieve savings of £191 million by 2017-18 – the council’s response to Government spending cuts and the need to find additional money to care for a rapidly ageing population.
The council has accepted it must continue to provide care for adults with critical and substantial needs. A judicial review earlier this year found Birmingham’s attempt to cease providing care packages for people with substantial needs to be unlawful.
The move would have resulted in more than 4,000 social services clients losing council care and looking for help from voluntary sector groups instead.
As a result of the court decision, the local authority is faced with a large hole to fill in its budget.
In a document setting out proposed savings, Mr Hay outlines a new way of assessing the needs of vulnerable adults which he admits will “move away from an overall entitlement to social care in all aspects of a person’s life”. He is proposing targeted support where there is clear evidence that a person would lose their independence if services were not provided.
A Universal Resource Allocation System will be fairer than the existing way of assessing benefit because it treats all applicants equally regardless of age and type of disability, according to the council. The new system will save £1.7 million a year. However, Mr Hay admits that some applicants will have to find help from other sources: “People will be expected to make greater use of their own resources, such as mobility allowance, attendance allowance, or family members, to meet their needs.
“We will also be working with the independent sector, particularly where care is provided for younger adults, to determine if better models can be developed that are less expensive, better able to meet people’s needs and promote independence.”
He adds: “The challenge for Adults and Communities is how we can make the best use of our resources to meet the needs of vulnerable adults in Birmingham who need adult social care, at a time when we have to make savings.
“We believe that if we use our budget in a targeted way, we will still be able to meet the social care needs of eligible adults who have been assessed as having critical and substantial needs.
“We will continue to support people to be as independent as possible, to keep people safe and free from harm, to prevent people from needing intensive services for as long as possible and offer information and advice to all.
“This will give people choice, control and support to achieve the best possible outcomes.”