Care Act triggers surge in safeguarding cases
Latest LGA stocktake shows councils handled 100,000 adult safeguarding enquiries in first six months of legislation coming into force
The number of cases adult safeguarding teams need to respond to doubled in the first six months of the Care Act, figures published today suggest.
Councils made 100,000 safeguarding enquiries between April 2015 and October 2015, the Local Government Association’s latest Care Act stocktake found. Official figures show councils handled 103,900 safeguarding referrals in the full 12-month period up until April 2015, when the Care Act came into force.
The figures strongly suggest safeguarding caseloads have increased substantially since the act introduced a statutory threshold for initiating safeguarding enquiries (see box below). Previously councils decided when an investigation should be initiated.
Social care sources said the rise was likely to reflect a combination of factors. These included increased reporting, greater awareness of the need for safeguarding interventions in cases involving issues like modern slavery, and that the Care Act’s statutory threshold may be broader than the local definitions previously used by councils.
However, Community Care understands there are also genuine concerns among sector leaders that the figures could at least in part mark problems in the quality of care services. As at March 7, a third of social care services inspected by the Care Quality Commission were deemed to be inadequate (3%) or require improvement (30%).
Gary Fitzgerald, chief executive of older people’s charity, Action on Elder Abuse, said: “If these figures are accurate they represent a major increase in adult safeguarding intervention, and that must be welcomed because of what it potentially means for victims.
“However, it is worth exploring the detail further as it is difficult to see how safeguarding teams effectively doubled their workloads at a time of substantial cutbacks.”
He added: “It would be useful to know how many of these enquiries were ‘delegated’ to care providers or others? What were the actual outcomes, and did they make a difference for victims? Unfortunately, the stocktake tells us nothing beyond providing the figure of 100,000, which makes it impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions.
“We intend to explore this further with the LGA to better understand the validity of this figure and what it might mean.”