Buckinghamshire Council ‘struggling’ to provide adult social care, councillor admits

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Buckinghamshire Council is ‘struggling’ to provide adult social care, a councillor has admitted.

Councillor Paul Turner said: “Adult social care is one of those major expenditures for Buckinghamshire Council, so financially it is a real struggle. There is more and more required.

“And, of course, there is the HR problem, with recruitment and retention. But I think on the whole Buckinghamshire Council does very well.”

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The Conservative unitary councillor for Downley made the comments during a meeting of the parish council in High Wycombe on Tuesday night.

Downley Parish Council Meeting, photo from Charlie Smith/Local Democracy Reporting ServiceDownley Parish Council Meeting, photo from Charlie Smith/Local Democracy Reporting Service
Downley Parish Council Meeting, photo from Charlie Smith/Local Democracy Reporting Service

Although not a member of the parish council, Cllr Turner sat in the public gallery and gave his colleagues in Downley an update about activities at Bucks Council.

At the request of Downley councillor Wendy Monroe West, he shed light on the council’s provision of care to elderly people and others.

He said: “There are a couple of care homes that have gone under. We were aware that was happening, and we would put in support for everybody there to find alternative homes.

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“Adult social care is one of those difficult areas which is always going to struggle, because although we set budgets and expectations, it is a bottomless pit.”

Councillor Paul TurnerCouncillor Paul Turner
Councillor Paul Turner

Bucks Council provides a wide range of adult social care services to help people stay living independently, where possible.

This can include washing and dressing people, helping them get out of bed, as well as helping them stay active in their communities.

Social care can be provided in people’s own homes, in day centres and in care homes and nursing homes.

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It supports of a wide variety of people, including the elderly, those who are frail, have disabilities, neurodiversity and mental health issues.

However, skyrocketing demand for such services has seen adult social care budgets balloon at councils across the country.

This includes Bucks Council, where the £197 million adult social care programme for 2024/25 is soaks up nearly 40 per cent of the current overall revenue budgets.

The council’s budget for this financial year says that demand for adult social care continues to grow due to ‘rising life expectancy and the changing needs and preferences of service users’.

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It says: “Approximately 3,400 contacts are received by adult social care each month, totalling 40,000 contacts each year.

“This is a significant increase since 2020/21 when the council received an average of 2,090 contacts per quarter.”

The council is delivering an adult social care improvement programme, with several projects on the go.

These include improving the provision of community-based prevention services to delay or prevent needs escalating, and to reduce the number of people contacting the council where no statutory care support is required.

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However, there are still challenges and risks facing the council due to rising demand for adult social care.

These include demographic growth, an aging population and recovery from Covid-19, as well as the ‘poorer health of residents in the community’.

Bucks Council raised council tax by the maximum allocated amount for this financial year for the third consecutive time. A 2% increase for adult social care was seen as a key reason why the authority increased payments by the maximum amount.