The total number of people receiving adult care services in 2012-13 fell to 1.3m, down nine per cent from last year and 25 per cent from 2007-08, according to the latest social services activity figures for England.
Social services departments have reduced those receiving services despite the fact that the volume of people coming through the door remains largely the same as previous years, the figures published this week by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) reveal.
The statistics show that of those receiving services, 1.1m received community-based services (a fall of 10 per cent from 2011-12), 209,000 received residential care (a fall of two per cent from 2011-12) and 87,000 received nursing care (which is less than a one per cent change from 2011-12).
According to the HSCIC, feedback from councils suggests that the fall is due to an increase in the provision of reablement services outside of a formal assessment process, raised eligibility criteria for services and reduced funding and resources.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK said the fall in people receiving social services would hit older people hard.
“These figures provide yet more evidence of the bleak reality of the crisis in social care. It is wrong that older people who desperately need help with everyday tasks such as washing, dressing, preparing food and cleaning their teeth will not receive help.” Age UK currently estimates that there are 830,000 older people who need care and are receiving no formal support.
A Department of Health spokesperson said a new national eligibility criteria, to be introduced in 2015, “will set a minimum threshold that will allow local authorities to keep current levels of access to care and support services”.
“For the first time, this threshold will set out the individual needs and circumstances in which every council in England must offer care and support for adults. This would put an end to councils tightening their own local eligibility criteria in response to budget pressures, which can currently see people live with the fear that they will be denied or lose their support.”
Meanwhile, separate figures released by the HSCIC this week revealed that the number of people receiving self-directed care is climbing rapidly.
Adult social care outcomes statistics show the proportion of people using social care in England who received self-directed support in 2012-13 was 55 per cent, compared to 43 per cent in 2011-12 and 29 per cent in 2010-11.
Nationally, there are big variations, for example in Cornwall 20 per cent received self-directed care while the proportion in Buckinghamshire was 85 per cent.
In 2012-13, 16 per cent of people received self-directed support using direct payments, compared to 13 per cent in 2011-12 and 11 per cent in 2010-11.
“It is good to see that that the number of people who use services and are satisfied with their care and support has increased for another year, as has the number of people who use services who feel safe,” said a Department of Health spokesperson.
“However, it is disappointing that councils have missed our agreed 2013 target for provision of personal budgets, which make a real difference to the people who receive them. In the future, the Care Bill sets out that everyone needing care and support will have a personal budget as part of their care plan.”