Health and local authority budgets could be combined to plug a multi-million pound funding gap in learning disability services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
The council say rising demand for services will see the financial requirements for providing a service could increase from £2 million this year to £5 million by 2016. They will now conduct a review to examine how value for money is achieved, “through exploring further opportunities for collaboration and integration with partners”.
Tony Oakman, director for people’s services, suggested that due to the nature of learning disabilities, and the pressures the council was under, it would be sensible to take a collaborative approach.
“It may be that we need to be more creative in what we are doing, and work more closely with the NHS and the clinical commissioning groups,” he said.
“We might need a pooled budget with partner organisations. I don’t think we have quite got there yet, but we will bring back this report so we know exactly what the situation is. This is not just about the local authority – it’s everybody’s responsibility. This could mean going wider than just Stoke-on-Trent, taking a North Staffordshire, or even Staffordshire-wide approach.”
The number of adults with a moderate or severe learning disability in Stoke-on-Trent is expected to increase from 972 to 993 by 2020, while the number of service users aged over 70 is set to more than double by 2030.
Christine Whitehead, assistant director of adult social care, added: “People are coming through severely premature births with really complex disabilities, when previously they wouldn’t have survived. At the other end of the spectrum, people with learning disabilities are seeing their life expectancies improving due to medical advances, which is contributing to the pressures for us.
“People are also moving to Stoke-on-Trent, due to the availability of services and cost of accommodation, where they become our responsibility.
“The future projection is that there will be an additional £5 million of pressure by 2016. This is the national picture, it’s not just Stoke-on-Trent.”
The councils report also showed that ‘cost avoidance’ measures and efficiencies have resulted in estimated savings of £3.4 million. They predict that continuing these efforts will help reduce the increased financial costs by up to £1 million.