Adult social care services were being trimmed in England even before the coalition's major programme of cuts kicked in this year, figures published today indicate.
Council spending on adult social care fell by 2% in real terms from 2009-10 to 2010-11, with spending on older people declining by 3%, partly offset by a 2% real terms rise in spending on people with learning disabilities, the NHS Information Centre said today.
While 1.57m adults received services following a community care assessment in England in 2010-11, this was a 7% fall from the total in 2009-10. Part of the decline is related to data issues, but councils also reported that the drop reflected rising eligibility thresholds, services being stopped altogether and, more positively, service users being dealt with at the first point of contact.
These reductions took place before the coalition's programme of cuts started in 2011-12, under which government funding for councils will be reduced by 28% in real terms, partly offset by a £1bn a year transfer of cash to adult social care from the NHS.
However, the government did make more limited reductions to council budgets in 2010-11, which may account in part for the reductions in care funding and services.
The news follows yesterday's Autumn Statement, in which chancellor George Osborne signalled deeper cuts to social care, lasting until 2017.
The figures published today are provisional and will be followed by final figures next year.
Councils still under big pressures in learning disabilities