Cordis Pulse: March 2017
03 April 2017
This month, across health and adult social care, we were interested to see the King's Fund report on the 44 sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) which show how local health and social care systems can respond to an environment of increasing demand and reducing finance. Cordis Bright has reviewed all these plans and finds two interesting points of note. First, despite much adverse publicity, very few plans include concrete proposals to close hospital beds, and secondly, around a third of the STPs do not yet contain any plans at all for social care savings. So whilst these plans are an important start they do not yet provide full clarity about how the health and social care challenge can be tackled.
It is often easy to forget that one of the factors which unites the majority of adult social care users, apart from their involvement in care and support services, is that they are often at, or sometimes below, the poverty line. This month, two pieces of research from Joseph Rowntree Foundation explore this theme in their reports on: a) the minimum income standard (which many vulnerable people and people with a disability do not meet), and b) on how poverty affects people’s decision making processes.
Concerning children's services, the report by the Child Welfare Inequality Project on how poverty affects the numbers of children in care or subject to a child protection plan reflects our own experiences of working across the country where we have identified substantial variation in numbers and in the quality of social work practice. One of the more worrying findings from the research, we think, is that children living in pockets of deprivation within affluent council areas were 50% more likely to be taken into care than children in equally deprived neighbourhoods in poorer local authority areas.
We agree with the report’s conclusion that the most likely explanation for this is poorer authorities – facing greater overall demand for child protection services and proportionately larger funding cuts – are more tightly rationing expensive safeguarding interventions. There is a real risk, therefore, that vulnerable children in some areas are not receiving the support they need. We have worked with a number of local authorities, experiencing significant resource challenges, to help them ensure that there is robust and defensible decision-making in place with the interests of the child at the forefront. Combined with support to ensure effective social work practice, we are helping to ensure that children are protected, whilst resources are used effectively and in an impactful way.