The increasing cost of social care calls for more creative use of assets: taxation isn’t the answer

As councils begin the process of formalising their budgets for 2017/18, the vast majority are issuing stark warnings around the impact of cost pressures flowing from the cost of looking after the growing number of older people, especially those with social care needs.

Unlocking greater efficiencies, including better use and planning of assets, is increasingly being seen as a catalyst for change

Developed economies across the world are facing similar pressures.  The result of better quality diets, better housing, good healthcare systems, and improved public health is that life expectancy has been rising and the numbers of older people are growing.  This is a good thing.  The wider issue is that, whilst we have a record number of older people now living in the UK, our age profile as a society is also aging.

There has been an increase of 1 million over 65’s since 2010. We will have to see what the projected UK population will be post our pending Brexit deal, but current estimations are that the UK population will rise by 14%, or 9 million by 2030.  

During that period the proportion of the population aged 75 or over will be set to rise by 82%.   Whilst this is seen as positive, it is fair to say that we do not have a national funding strategy to match. There has been much talk of health and social care integration, and for example the Manchester Devolution Deal (Devo Manc) aims to tackle this challenge head on; yet progress is slow and councils are seeing the cost pressures stemming from rising social care costs squeezing out the resources for many of their wider services. 

At Arcadis we are involved in many initiatives aimed at helping people live longer, more independent lives, accessing better local primary and community, and supporting the transition back into independent living following episodes of acute care. Unlocking greater efficiencies and service benefits through a more system-wide approach, including better use and planning of assets, is a key part of any strategy and one which is increasingly being seen as a catalyst for change and transformation.   

The Government could and should focus on promoting collaboration between provider organisations. Initiatives such as the One Public Estate begin to make some progress in enabling integration and greater efficiency, but more could be done via the 'carrot' of collaboration initiatives and the 'stick' of planning powers. Section 106 or CIL requirements for newer integrated facilities, for example, or even investment in smart technology would all help to enable better care for an ageing population. 

Mark Barrow

Partner - Government, Municipals & Health Ask me a question
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