The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) in England has said more of its members than ever before have expressed concerns about their ability to provide the care and support that they are legally required to.

The ADASS Autumn survey covered a range of subjects including the ability to meet statutory duties, budgetary issues, the ability of local care markets to cope with pressures and the impacts of the national focus on reducing rates of delayed discharges.

According to the findings, the failure of a major provider, or winter pressures, could make the problems significantly worse.

ADASS circulated the short survey, which was open for four weeks from mid-September to mid-October 2019, to all 151 directors of adult social care in England. Sixty-five directors responded.

ADASS found that almost all adult social services directors were concerned about their ability to provide the required care and nearly all had concerns that they have insufficient capacity to deal with winter or the failure of a major care provider. They said this could fundamentally undermine their ability to ensure that care is provided to those of us who are older or disabled.

ADASS President Julie Ogley responded saying that directors were relentlessly positive about what social care can achieve but the findings of the survey showed the situation to be worse than in July, when their budget survey showed councils were "desperately lacking the sustainable long-term funding needed to provide vital services that will allow us all to live the dignified lives we want to lead".

She said whoever forms the next government must make a choice and prioritise adult social care, "give certainty about funding, longer-term reform and a long-term plan that puts fairness at the heart of everything”.

Age UK Charity Director Caroline Abrahams warned that if a person needs care but can’t get it then the consequences for their health and wellbeing can be very serious. She said: "We all ought to be worried that there are 1.5 million older and disabled people struggling without the help they require at what is traditionally the most difficult time of year for health and care services.”

“Older and disabled people, their families and carers have had to put up with a third rate system for far too long. We can change it for the better and for all our sakes this must be a top priority for the next Government. People in need of care cannot wait any longer.”

She added that, in the run up to Christmas, the new statistics show that the care system is "skating on very thin ice".

The survey results are available at:

Last reviewed 3 December 2019