Sheffield Social Services (1) are currently in a financial dilemma, with an anticipated budget overspend, do they cut spending in the department or endeavour to obtain monies from other budgets, it would appear the former, but what will this eventually create?
What has occurred?
The Social Services budget for 2012/2013 was overspent by £6.3 million and there is now a projected overspend for Social Services of £11 million, of which £6.5 million is in Learning Disabilities (1).
So if there were not significant changes in practices or other means from 2012/2013 to 2013/2014 there would have been an expected overspend of £6.3 million. But due to Government austerity cuts, it is said that savings of 20% need to be made.
The following is an extract from Budget Conversion 2014-2015: Shaping our future together (1)
‘But Sheffield Social Services accept that we have an increasing number of older people, particularly very old people. They also expect a 32% increase in people aged over 85 in the next 10 years.
For disabled Adults with complex needs (2), there is an increase of 5% each year.
This is in addition to an increase in the number of older people being discharged from hospital who need social care support.
There is more people with mental health issues seeking social services funded support – a 64% increase from 2011/2012 to 2012/2013.
An increase in the demand and cost of support packages for people needing support. Between 2011/2012 and 2012/2013
– number of customers supported increased by 11%
– average cost of support per customer increased by 8%.’
This is at a time when according to the article 72 more jobs in social services are at risk. Who will be going and what action is being taken? Is this action appropriate? As the facts are extremely limited, and knowledge is not forthcoming due to apparent employment restrictions.
So at a time when demand is increasing to make savings staffing levels are being reduced.
If by any methods of reducing costs the demands on the service are not met, this will result in some safeguarding issues for the most vulnerable adults residing in Sheffield.
These are not people who can be discarded or left to fend for themselves. Without the services they require to ensure their critical needs are met, these needs will not be met.
These social services are priority services and need to be maintained at all costs.
While I do not have the figures to hand, it is logical to assume, if there was an over spend in the budget of 2012/2013, then there would be an over spend in 2013/2014, before taking into account the budget reduction, and the increases in the demand and resultant increase in costs.
You have to question, was the budget set for 2013/2014, a realistic budget (1) and if not, it was doomed to an over spend greater than in the previous year.
Some budget information was apparently released, but no apparent mention re Social Services
(1) © Copyright of Sheffield City Council 2013
(2) Crown Copyright. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0
(3) © The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry 2010