NHS funds transfer not enough to stop real-terms cut in adult social care spending

Official figures show that social care investment fell 0.7% in real-terms in 2013-14 despite £860m cash injection from health service

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An injection of NHS funds into the adult social care system wasn’t enough to stop a real-terms cut in spending last year, new figures from the health and care information centre show.

Total net spending on adult social care, including investment from councils and a transfer of £860m from the NHS budget, reached £15.49bn in 2013-14. The figure marks an increase in cash-terms from the £15.35n spent in 2013-14 but a real-terms cut of 0.8% given that investment would have had to hit £15.61bn to keep up with inflation.

Prior to last year’s transfer of funds from the NHS, councils received £650m from the NHS in 2011-12 and £620m in 2012-13. In a letter sent to councils in 2010 announcing the transfers, the Department of Health said that the NHS funds would help “protect people’s access to care, without tightening eligibility”.

The latest figures mean that spending on adult social care fell by 8.4% in real-terms between 2010-11 and 2013-14. The data also reveals that the average spending on an adult receiving intensive home care or supported in a residential or nursing home dropped by 2% in real-terms in 2013-14.

The cut in spending comes at a time when demand for social care is rising but the number receiving help is being cut back. Official figures published in July showed that social services department saw the number of new contacts from clients rise by 4% in 2013-14. However, the total number of people receiving services dropped by 5%.

Campaigners said that the latest spending data raised serious question marks over the ability of local authorities to meet the additional expectations of them that will be introduced with the Care Act next year.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of charity Independent Age, said today’s report was evidence of the “unravelling of social care services in England”.

“Not only are councils spending less on social care, they are spending less on older people’s care in particular, at a time when demand is increasing because of our ageing population,” she said.

“Overall, every day councils are becoming less and less able to meet the expectations of them under the new Care Act.”

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