CASH-strapped Herefordshire Council could have to find nearly £2m by this time next year to cover future costs coming to adult social care.
Estimates indicate the council needs another £1.9m to cope with the requirements of the Care Bill that should be signed off by parliament to start in April 2015.
A report prepared for the council’s health and well-being board says the extent of additional cost for 2016-17 may even be an underestimate given its calculation using national estimates.
The board is also warned of:
• Increased demand for assessments for both self-funders and carers with added financial and staffing pressures.
• A potential increase in the number of people becoming entitled to council support with the asset testing threshold raised.
• The need for investment in IT systems capable of managing the Care Bill’s requirements.
• Considerable learning and development required across the whole adult social care workforce
• Decisions needed on what services the council will charge for.
Currently progressing through legislation, the Care Bill consolidates over a dozen different pieces of legislation that have developed over the last 60 years into a single law.
If enacted from April next year, the Bill gives adult social care a new legal framework integrating care and support systems and reforming the way these systems are funded.
There are expected to be around 20 sets of regulations to support the bill, interpreting and embedding these in the county is already acknowledged as a “significant” task with the council facing “significant” risk if statutory requirements cannot be met.
For the council, the changes required have to be considered in the context of well documented financial and demand risk factors that already affect adult social care.
From an aging population to a rise in younger adults with complex disabilities.
Analysis of potential additional costs is not yet complete but a calculation using national cost estimates indicates the £1.9m figure.
However, this may be understated as the county has a higher proportion of self-funders than the national average.
A cap will limit the amount clients have to contribute to their care to £72,000 for over 65s.
This will have a big impact on council budgets given the estimated 70% of all residential and nursing care beds in the county are occupied by 1,000-1,100 self funders.
Initial financial impact will be created by a surge in demand from self-funders applying to have their eligibility assessed so that a care account can be created.
Again, using national estimates, this could create a pressure of around £600k.
Of more urgent concern to the council - as a budget pressure for 2016/17 - is the raising of the capital asset threshold from the of £23k to £118k.
A number of people currently funding their own care are likely to fall below the new threshold and, if their needs are eligible, will immediately become entitled to council support.
The number of people this may affect is not currently known. The council has no current requirement to track this information and acknowledges a need for “urgent work” to evaluate the potential cost.
Requirements to undertake assessments for both self-funders and carers is likely to create a significant financial pressure over the year leading up to the care cap.
There are wide ranging implications in the Bill for the council’s IT and case management systems, particularly in holding, maintaining and reporting data on groups that the council has so far had little or no contact with - such as self funders.
The provider of the present system has already begun to develop upgrades and solutions that fit the Bill.
Against this, the council faces a key strategic decision - required within the next month - to agree an IT strategy that can support future case management.
In March, a budget monitoring report had adult well being on course for a £3m overspend by the end of the 2013-14 financial year having spent some £70m.