Jeremy Cooper

Mission: Possible – how to save £3 billion and promote independence in adult social care

October 4, 2017

We are delighted to launch our latest report: Mission: Possible – how to save £3 billion and promote independence in adult social care.

Of the £14 billion spent on adult social care each year, we calculate that £3 billion is spent on unnecessary care – and could be saved if the system was better organised. 

If those working in the sector took every opportunity to promote independence, we could spend £3 billion less and improve the outcomes for people. We call this ‘managing avoidable demand’.

To be clear, we are not saying that adult social care is inefficient, that the situation is the same in each council, or that £3 billion is a savings target that we should aim for. Nor are we justifying cuts to adult social care or denying that there are increasing levels of unmet need. A new national settlement – as promised in the upcoming Green Paper – is urgently needed.

What we are saying is that we need to widen the lens that is usually taken to budget setting. Over previous decades, we have inadvertently created expectations, cultures, processes and systems that drive dependency – and therefore increase costs. This cannot continue.

In the report, we present analysis from observations, system interventions, demand and cost analysis and case reviews to make the case that 70% of adult social care demand is influenceable and 20% is avoidable.

Managing avoidable demand is an approach which can not only save £3 billion, but can also improve outcomes at the same time.  Many councils are on the right journey towards delivering a fully-functioning ‘Target Demand System’ (as we term it), and the available evidence suggests that this approach will deliver the desired results in the coming months and years.

Managing avoidable demand does have a few prerequisites: it requires some new tools; it requires Chief Executives and Finance Directors to work with their Directors of Adults Services, along with health partners and others in the adult care ecosystem to agree a bold and inclusive ambition; and it requires a different approach to setting budgets.

But by reframing the problem, citizens can gain greater independence and well-being, for longer, and at lower cost.  Of course, none of this is easy – but our paper shows that it is possible.

Please do email us with your thoughts and reactions – we would be grateful for your feedback. Do also feel free to share the report within your own networks, and share online (#MissionPossible).

Download the Report

You can download your copy of the report in PDF format here.


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