Another week, another warning. If we don’t address the funding pressure building in the system around adults and childrens’ social care services then local governments ability to fulfil its more general responsibilities, to its communities, will implode.
So will Government address this impending catastrophe through new fiscal raising proposals in the imminent social care green paper or deal with it in next year’s comprehensive spending review? Or will we remain like mindless zombies on a relentless march to fulfil the predictions contained within various versions of the graph of doom? That money will run out for anything other than statutory services and even then such protection will be severely tested.
Of course, any additional revenue raising approaches will need to keep the public onside and this is where a paradox exists. We know from APSE’s work with New Policy Institute that there has been a significant shift in funding away from non-statutory neighbourhood services and they are visibly struggling in many areas. And yet these doorstep services are the very ones that the public value the most; have my bins been emptied; are the streets clean; is the park well maintained and safe; do the street lights work; does the road have potholes in it; these are all at the forefront of the publics minds when they are asked for their view on the council.
Many of these services are also at the core of preventative approaches to avoiding the necessity for cure further down the line. Take parks and urban greenspace as one example. Not only are they a great community asset but they facilitate and encourage active lifestyles, to avoid obesity related illness; promote social cohesion; and help counteract loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly. These services need to be properly integrated into preventative measures that social care services are also undertaking in a whole system approach.
A serious conversation needs to be had about how we recalibrate the existing system to one where we are investing in a healthier future, by funding the services that will achieve this, rather than continuing to deal with the consequences of our lack of longer term thinking and inaction, which leads us to continuously feed an ever more bloated approach to cure.
Will politicians, civil servants and policy makers show the insight and bravery to think in generational terms or will short termism continue to triumph.