moneyInvesting in social care services for people with disabilities helps to prevent them from falling into crisis, and as a result, leads to substantial economic benefits to the taxpayer, a study by 5 leading charities has found.

Researchers found that for every £1 spent on services, such as support in the community, housing and communication support, the associated benefits to people, carers, local and central government is worth an average of £1.30.

This research comes as the Government’s Care Bill is being scrutinised in Parliament, and ahead of the next spending review, which will take place at the end of this month and determine how much money government departments will have. Further cuts to social care budgets are expected.

Ending the other care crisis

The study, Ending the Other Care Crisis: Making the case for investment in preventative care and support for disabled adults, was commissioned by charities Mencap, Leonard Cheshire, Scope, Sense and the National Autistic Society and independently led by research company Deloitte. It analysed 4 distinct services used by disabled people who need a lower level of care, which is often just a few hours a week and could help with budgeting and timekeeping.

Totalling up the costs in comparison to the benefits and savings, the ‘returns’ ranged from 18% to 53%. Modelling those findings nationally produces benefits to the Exchequer, local health and care commissioners and individuals of at least 30%.

The economic benefits would come from:

• Preventing people's needs escalating and having to rely on more costly public services
• Advice and support for everyday activities from budgeting, and communication to help in the home increases quality of life and engagement with society
• Reduced dependency on family members and carers can enable them to return to employment.

This research follows a report by the same charities earlier in the year which revealed that care for disabled people was underfunded by £1.2 billion. The report, The Other Care Crisis, found that more than 100,000 disabled people will be left without access to basic care to help them eat, wash or leave their homes if the Government fails to underpin its social care reform by making sure all those who need support get it.

Threshold warning

Simon Parkinson, director of external relations and communities at Mencap, said: “If the threshold for care is set too high, over 100,000 disabled people could be forced to go without the care and support they rely on to meet even their basic needs, such as help to eat, wash or get dressed. We can’t afford to take away this right. Failing to meet people's needs will not only have a hugely negative impact on the welfare of disabled people and their families, but also wider financial implications for the taxpayer in the long run.”

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope, agreed and called for a “bold response” from the Government to this. “The social care system is in crisis. We already know the human benefits of ensuring people get the support to live independently in the community. Now we know the economic benefits too.

“This research presents indisputable evidence that the proper funding of social care prevents disabled people getting into crisis and makes good economic sense.

“Right now a rationing of care means disabled people have to reach crisis point before they get basic support, and this is needlessly costing the UK economy at a time when there isn’t a penny to spare.

“The Care Bill could still deliver a care system that we can be proud of. But the plans are fatally undermined by the possibility of the threshold being set too high, and a critical lack of funding.

“If the Government genuinely wants to deliver a fit and proper social care system that prevents disabled people from reaching crisis, it needs to ensure eligibility is set at the right level, and there is an emergency injection of funding that is guaranteed to reach frontline services.”

Clare Pelham, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, added: “This report shows the devastating consequences - not only financial but human – of disabled people being denied the care and support they need. It shows clearly that ‘scrimping’ on care - as well as being morally wrong - does not even save money in the long run, and may end up costing the taxpayer a lot more.”