‘Not a happy situation’: Adult social care to take a hit as council tries to plug £40m budget gap

Camden Town Hall.

Care packages for people who need extra help from social services will be reviewed – with Camden Council hoping the move will save it up to £2.5m.

It is one of a number of cost-cutting measures under consideration at the Town Hall as it tries to plug a £40m hole in its budget over the next three years.

Social care staff will look at both the smallest care packages of £100 a week and the most expensive ones, which come in at more than £1,000, to see if they are still appropriate.

They will also explore how to provide support for people in their own homes in a more effective way.

Budget proposals were put under the spotlight at Camden’s health and adult social care scrutiny committee yesterday.

Cllr Judy Dixey said: “It’s a stunning amount of savings.”

She wants to ensure that residents and their carers are kept informed.

The council’s head of adult social care, Jess McGregor, said the reviews are no different from usual, but will look at whether people’s needs have increased or reduced.

Another £450,000 will be trimmed from adult social care budgets.

The savings, found by accountants, come from areas where the department has underspent – but Town Hall bosses warned that it is becoming harder to trim budgets without affecting services.

Anna Wright, cabinet member for health, wellbeing and adult social care, said: “Nobody’s celebrating having to make cuts. Now we are at the stage where cuts hurt. The situation we face is not a happy one.”

She praised staff for finding ways to save money without a huge impact on residents.

Camden is getting £13.2m in government funding for social care in the 2023/24 financial year – money that will be used to address existing pressures.

The budget includes a 4.5 per cent inflation increase for care costs, but with rates soaring, the council is expecting that care providers will ask for “considerably above 4.5 per cent”.

Amongst other identified savings in Camden is £180,000 in 2024, which will mean some people with mental health needs receiving residential care rather than living in a home.

Demand for care accommodation dropped during the pandemic but the demand is rising again.

McGregor said: “We need to ensure we can support people to live well and longer in their own home with the right care and support.”

There is likely to be an increase in demand for accommodation and more complex needs over the next decade.

The council commissions a variety of accommodation and McGregor explained: “Even with this capacity and range of services, we cannot always find the right place for people to live with the right care and support.”

It is looking at how it delivers extra care as it faces these challenges.

Its 38-bedroom Charlie Ratchford Court has proved popular with residents. It is designed to help people with extra needs live independent lives, with on-site staff there for support and chefs preparing daily meals. The council is looking at offering more care like this.

It is also considering how to improve accommodation for people with complex mental health needs so they can move back to Camden.

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