Social care’s funding pressures in numbers

Ahead of this week’s Autumn Budget, Community Care highlights the main pressures facing social care for children and adults

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Photo: Michail Petrov/Fotolia

by Gordon Carson & Luke Stevenson

To stake their claims to receive more funding in next week’s Autumn Budget, children’s and adults’ social care leaders and experts have submitted a series of requests to the chancellor, Philip Hammond, as the sector tries to convince the government of the scale and scope of the crises facing the sector.

Here, we’ve picked out some of the key messages and numbers from their submissions and other reports, ahead of the chancellor’s speech on Wednesday (22 November).

Children’s social care:

25% – the real terms cut in central government funding for children’s services, from £10 billion to £7.6 billion, from 2010-11 to 2015-16. Spending on services by local authorities has fallen from £10 billion to £8.4 billion (Source: Turning the Tide)

£2 billion – the estimated funding gap in children’s services by 2020 (Source: Local Government Association)

£605 million – the overspend on children’s services in 2015/16 (Source: Local Government Association)

40% – the reduction in local authorities’ early help services since 2010-11 (Source: Turning the Tide)

7% – the increase in crisis support spending over the same period (Source: Turning the Tide)

29% – the predicted cut in funding for children’s services from central government by 2020. The most deprived councils had already had to cut funding six times more than the least-deprived areas (Source: Turning the Tide)

23% – the level of spending cuts made in the most deprived local authorities (Source: Turning the Tide)

40% – the proportion of council leaders who said they were unable to meet one or more statutory duties for children (Source: National Children’s Bureau)

72,670  – the number of looked-after children in England as of March 2017 (Source: The Department for Education)

The growing pressures on children’s services have been highlighted again in a report by a consortium of children’s charities, including Action for Children, the National Children’s Bureau and The Children’s Society, which warned that councils were being forced to intervene later in children’s lives because of funding pressures.

The Local Government Association, responding to the report, said councils had worked hard to minimise the impact of cuts, but the increase in numbers of children in care and referrals to children’s services had made this harder to maintain.

Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “With such high demand for child protection services, councils have been forced to scale back the early help that can make such a difference in reducing the need for this support in the first place.

“This report suggests that government funding for early intervention has fallen by £1.7 billion since 2010, leaving local councils with the impossible task of attempting to continue delivering these services while also providing help and protection to the growing number of children at immediate risk of harm.”

He called on the government to use the Autumn Budget to fully fund children’s services. The association has previously warned about a £2 billion funding gap in children’s services by 2020.

Adults’ social care:

£2.5 billion – the funding gap facing adult social care in 2019-20 (source: a pre-Budget report published by The King’s Fund, Nuffield Foundation and The Health Foundation, which said social care “remains on the brink of crisis”)

7% – the real-terms cut in gross spending on adult social care services by councils, from £19.1 billion in 2009-10 to £17.8 billion in 2016-17 (Source: The King’s Fund, Nuffield Foundation and The Health Foundation)

25% – the reduction in the number of older people accessing publicly funded social care, equating to more than 400,000 people, due to tightened eligibility criteria (Source: The King’s Fund, Nuffield Foundation and The Health Foundation)

9.5% – the increase in hours of unpaid care provided between 2009 and 2014 (Source: The King’s Fund, Nuffield Foundation and The Health Foundation)

1.2 million – the number of older people estimated to have unmet care needs (Source: The King’s Fund, Nuffield Foundation and The Health Foundation)

50 – the number of councils who have had adult care contracts handed back to them by providers (Source: Association of Directors of Adult Social Services annual budget survey, 2017)

64 – the number of councils who had experienced the closure of adult care providers in their area (Source: Association of Directors of Adult Social Services annual budget survey, 2017)

6.6% – the overall staff vacancy rate across adult social care in 2016-17 (Source: Skills for Care / The King’s Fund, Nuffield Foundation and The Health Foundation)

10.4% – the vacancy rate in domiciliary care in 2016-17 (Source: Skills for Care / The King’s Fund, Nuffield Foundation and The Health Foundation)

95,000 – the number of people from Europe working in the adult social care sector, compared to 67,000 five years ago. “As a result, Brexit is likely to compound these staffing challenges in social care.” (Source: Skills for Care / The King’s Fund, Nuffield Foundation and The Health Foundation)

£1.3 billion – the amount of money required to stabilise the adult social care provider market (Source: pre-Budget submission by the Local Government Association)

£366 million – social care overspends reported by councils in 2016-17 (Source: Local Government Association)

£824 million – savings required in 2017-18 (Source: Local Government Association)

24% – the proportion of funding authorities in England which say they have enough care provision to meet demand (Source: Family and Childcare Trust Older People’s Care Survey 2017)

The government’s announcement in the past week that a green paper on older people’s social care will be published by summer 2018 has largely been welcomed, though immediate funding pressures remain and are, if anything, intensifying.

Although the government announced an extra £2 billion for adult social care in the Spring Budget, the Local Government Association has said this is not enough to deal with all immediate and short-term pressures on adult social care, and highlighted that the funding stops at the end of 2019-20.

It also pointed out that this funding was followed by the introduction in July of “further, more rigid and unrealistic target reductions on delayed transfers of care”, and the possibility of sanctions if targets were not met.

Although the adult social care council tax precept, which enables local authorities to raise council tax bills by 3% in 2017-18 and a further 3% 2018-19 to help fund adult social care, was a “welcome short-term measure”, the LGA said extra council tax income “will not bring in anywhere near enough money to alleviate the growing pressure on social care both now and in the future”.

It also said the government’s main vehicle for driving integration, the Better Care Fund (BCF), had “lost credibility and is no longer fit for purpose”. Its focus on reducing pressure on NHS acute services “is detracting from local initiatives to support social care and stabilise the perilously fragile social care provider market”.

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