The first real-terms rise in spending on adult social care since 2009-10 has been swallowed by the rising cost of service provision and pay, according to data gathered by NHS Digital.
NHS Digital’s Adult Social Care Activity and Finance Report said that the total spent on adult social care by local authorities plus client contributions totalled £17.5 billion in 2016-17. The amount is a £556 million increase on 2015-16 and represents a 1% rise in real terms.
When the Better Care Fund and capital charges are also counted the total spent on adult social care in England during 2016-17 rises to £20.6 billion.
National minimum wage
However, the report found that the extra spending, which was mainly funded by the £382 million raised from the adult social care precept on council tax, did not lead to more service activity.
“While expenditure has risen there has been minimal change in activity, which may be linked to the increasing costs in the provision of care,” the report said.
The increase in the national minimum wage and the rising cost of residential and nursing care were cited as main drivers of extra costs in adult social care during 2016-17.
Compared to 2015-16 the average cost of residential care for someone over 65 increased from £549 to £565 per week while the average weekly bill for nursing care went up from £563 to £606. Similar rises were also reported for residential and nursing care for working-age adults.
Fewer carers supported
The number of requests for adult social care support remained static, rising just 0.2% on the previous year. In total there were 1.8 million requests for adult social care support, equivalent to 5,000 requests a day across England.
The number of people receiving long-term support fell slightly – down 4,080 on the previous year to 868,440. The number of carers who received support declined 5% and the amount spent on supporting them dropped 6%.
While spending on adult social care rose in every region of England, NHS Digital found significant variation at local authority level. In 42 councils expenditure on adult social care declined and in four authorities budgets increased by more than 20% in cash terms.
The report also revealed that 59% of people with long-term care plans had their support reviewed during the year, up from 55% in 2015-16.