Government ‘must respond to immense pressure on social care’

26 Apr 19

An increase in the numbers of working-age adults seeking social care support is heaping “immense” pressure on the system in England, a think-tank has found. 

More working-age people are approaching local authorities for support, while the overall number of adults receiving support has fallen, according to analysis from the King’s Fund.

The number of working-age adults asking for social care has risen by 4% – more than 23,000 people – since 2015-16, the report out today said.

This has contributed to a 2% rise in the overall number of requests to councils (1.84 million) from new clients between 2015-16 and 2017-18.

Despite this rise in demand, nearly 13,000 fewer people are receiving support from their local authority. The proportion of over-65s getting long-term social care from their council has fallen by 6% since 2015-16.

The King’s Fund found that 18% of working-age people now report a disability, up from 15% in 2010-11. And the proportion of disabled working-age adults reporting mental health conditions has exploded from 24% to 36% in the past five years

More older people are also approaching their councils for support – a situation fuelled by an ageing population, it said.

The analysis also noted that real-terms local authority spending on social care is £700m below what it was in 2010-11. This is despite an extra £684m of expenditure in 2017-18 compared with the previous year.

Simon Bottery, senior fellow at the King’s Fund and lead author of the report, said: “This report shows that increasing need among working-age adults, an increasing older population and high levels of existing unmet needs are combining to put immense pressure on our care and support system, now and for the future.

“Yet there is little evidence that the government understands or is willing to act on these trends, despite the impact on older and disabled people, their families and carers.”

Bottery noted that the much-anticipated social care green paper still has no publication date, over two years after it was due to be published.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring people of all ages have access to the care and support they need. We have given local authorities access to up to £3.9 billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year, and a further £410 million  is available for adults and children’s services.” 

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