Yesterday’s Guardian had an interesting interview with Sarah Pickup, Hertfordshire’s Director of Social Services, on the stark financial issues facing adult social care provision – which includes home care services. Unfortunately the interview is not on the web yet.
Pickup is from a finance background and knows her stuff. She is not the kind of over-promoted social worker that Bristol’s city councillors have consistently employed and supported to manage this city’s social services department from crisis to crisis.
At the end of a thoroughly depressing interview Pickup says this:
“We are facing enormous pressures in adult care and the current situation is not sustainable if we are to continue delivering a high standard of service. We have a moral obligation to provide these services, but we need more assistance. We need more money from the government it is as simple as that.”
As co-chair of the resources committee of The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Pickup is in a good position to test the wind with regard to any strategic decision in favour of of social care in the CSR (Comprehensive Spending Review) this autumn.
She is not, it is fair to say, bubbling with optimism. “If the CSR comes up with absolutely nothing, which is something people increasingly feel,” she warns, “there are going to be some stark choices ahead.”
Let’s hope every Labour politician and wannabe Labour politician reads this and understands this. It is a Labour government – first and foremost – driving adult care policy and financially squeezing it to the bone, not local politicians. Let’s hope they also understand that daft, populist, off-the-cuff spending decisions on adult care might be enough to start a spiralling financial crisis.
We had a financial crisis in social services in 2004, which destroyed day care and meals-on-wheels. We do not want another crisis that destroys more of our city’s vital services for the most vulnerable.
Those who want to keep home care in the public sector need to note this and deliver a coherent and costed plan of how they intend to proceed. These services are too important to be left to the vagaries of arseholes playing populist games and seeking positive PR.
The facts are: if you want to keep home care in-house then something else will have to be cut. We need to know what that is now. It’s no good taking spending decisions now and then trying to find the money in 6 months. We’ve been there before.
The Labour Party and their unions have had since February to supply an alternative, costed plan on the future of home care. Where is it?