Social care in 'growing financial crisis' as Sheffield Council bosses reveal massive Â£20m overspend
Social care in Sheffield is in the middle of a 'growing financial crisis' as council bosses forecast a massive Â£20 million overspend.
Factors including Government grant cuts, a rise in children being taken into care and rising costs for adult care has led to the financial problem.
A report, which is to be presented to a scrutiny committee at Sheffield Town Hall next week, also cites a 'significant number of social workers' are being lost to neighbouring councils such Rotherham who have offered 'higher pay scales' and 'guaranteed lower caseloads'.
Budgets for social care have been protected by council chiefs but at the expense of 'significant cash reductions' in other services.
Children's services has seen also seen a 'steep increase' of children being placed into care from February 2016 to April 2017 which has 'created significant pressures on resources'.
The report also noted 'an increased influx of refugees and asylum seekers' has 'reduced overall capacity' for city children.
A growth in 'client and provider costs' and loss of Government cash has resulted in overspend in adult social care.
Sheffield has admitted 'significantly more older people' than councils with similar populations and needs to care homes which bring a 'relatively high cost resource', the report added.
Forecasts show children's services will spend Â£11million more than the budget available in 2017-18, reducing to Â£6m above budget in 2018-19.
Adult social care will see a Â£6m in 2017-18, with the risk of increasing to Â£20m in 2018-19 'without the remedial action'.
Council reserves currently stand at Â£12m but bosses say using this in its entirety is 'not financially viable'.
Local authority chiefs will now decide on the possibility of further cuts to areas such as parks, libraries and highways along with temporary use of reserves with plans to replenish them.
The report, co-written by Jayne Ludlam, executive director of people services and Eugene Walker, executive director for resources, said: "As the month 3 report on this Cabinet sets out, the council is forecast to overspend by Â£20m, largely as result of overspends in Adult Social Care Â£6.6m and in Children’s Social Care Â£11.5m.
"This position is not unusual – most Councils are currently experiencing similar problems, following seven years of austerity. Sheffield City Council and the Local Government Association (LGA) nationally have for some time put forward the case for the Government to fund social care on a proper sustainable basis.
"Recent injections of funding from Government have not resolved this underlying national financial crisis in social care. Current predictions of demand suggest that, even with corrective action, both social care services will spend more than their budget for this and future years. This makes the sustainability of social care pending the key issue for the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan."
Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough MP Gill Furniss laid the blame directly at the door of the ruling Tory Government for the city's predicament.
She said: ‘’The Tories cruel austerity strategy has meant Sheffield Council's budget has been slashed by over Â£350m since 2010.
"It is therefore not surprising that the council are now being forced to overspend in order to maintain the social care and children’s services that are so vital to the health and wellbeing of our local communities.
The Labour Party has been clear: will end austerity and ensure that such crucial services are properly funded.’’
REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS
Bosses also revealed 'an increased influx of refugees and asylum seekers' has 'reduced overall capacity' for city children.
Council figures have been down to Parliament to ask for more money in this area.
A council spokesman said: "We make sure that all children in our care are able to access the care, health and education services they need.
"The money the national government gives us to support our unaccompanied asylum seeking children does not however cover the costs we face to make sure children are able to access care, health and education services.
"The executive director, Jayne Ludlam and cabinet member, Coun Jackie Drayton, went down to the Houses of Parliament to meet the Ministers for Education and Immigration, and their officers to argue for more money and to explain where the gaps were in funding and why support was needed."
RISE IN CHILDREN BEING TAKEN INTO CARE
The report highlight a 'steep increase' of children being care' since 2016 which has caused 'significant pressures on resources'.
Sheffield Council said: "The increase in the numbers of children being taken into care is due to a number of factors. An increase in poverty, changes to the benefit system, as well as a rising birth rate and other demands which are driven by government policy."
LOW SATISFACTION IN ADULT SOCIAL CARE
In adult social care, particularly with elderly residents, customer satisfaction is lower than council's with similar populations and budgets.
The council aims to improve leadership, reduce bureaucracy and change the way resources are used.
Bosses claim 'considerable progress' has been made over the last two years in making improvements these need to be 'sustained and accelerated'.
But the high number of working age adults accessing formal social care services in Sheffield creates a 'key risk to the future sustainability of care and support'.
It's hoped a 'considerable shift' towards 'inclusion and prevention' will help adults access employment and other universal services.
The report says: "Low customer satisfaction cannot be attributed to insufficient resources. Other authorities have much higher rates of satisfaction from local older people thanSheffield even though their spend per head is less. Therefore there needs to be considerable emphasis upon practice and leadership development, as well as the use of systems that reduce bureaucracy."
HIGH ADMISSIONS TO NURSING HOMES AND LENGTHY DELAYS IN HOSPITAL DISCHARGE
Sheffield has admitted 'significantly more older people' to nursing homes than other council's with similar populations and budgets.
Bosses admitted this is a 'high cost resource' and also a 'difficult step' for people who would prefer to stay in their own homes.
The city also has a 'historically poor performance' with people staying too long in hospital.
'Delayed Transfers of Care' have been higher other councils. Council chiefs said this concerns older people, and has 'significant consequences' for use of resources in adult social care.
The report adds: "There is very clear evidence that extra time in hospital diminishes the physical abilities and also the confidence of older people, therefore increasing social care needs on discharge.
"There is a particularly strong link in Sheffield between delays in discharge from hospital and increased requirements for care homes."
LOSING SOCIAL WORKERS TO OTHER COUNCILS
The Star asked what the authority was doing in order to retain staff to continue to work in Sheffield.
A spokesman responded by saying: "Sheffield is a great place to be a social worker. We invest in our staff providing a leadership and development programme for all social workers. Our social work teams are small and our staff have manageable caseloads.
"All our social workers are supported by a team of highly trained professionals. We will continue to work hard to recruit the best social workers and support our existing social workers in their roles.