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Budget dictates social care eligibility, researchers conclude

Local authorities will tighten eligibility criteria for social care when they don’t have sufficient budget.

That is a conclusion of an independent report into rethinking adult social care eligibility criteria in Scotland.

The report finds that the use of eligibility masks a funding gap. Whilst many local authorities acknowledge the limitations of eligibility criteria, there is uncertainty about how to make budgets stretch through the year without them.

As unmet need is not well defined or recorded, this increases the potential for increased legal challenges. It also creates negative and exclusionary experiences, sometimes resulting in greater levels of public need, author Dr Emma Miller warns.  

The report finds that failure to properly fund social care across the UK over decades has contributed to the current highly problematic situation. The authors call for solutions that pay attention to both structure and culture in social care. They also highlight the value of conversations with diverse stakeholders to encourage creative responses to crisis.  

Among the recommendations are better understanding and recording of unmet need, improved information, advice and preventative support for people in need, and more focus on human rights rather than thresholds.  

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