Number of social services clients down by 29% in five years

More people approaching councils for support but fewer receiving funded services, show official statistics

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The number of adults receiving council-funded social services has fallen by 29% in five years on the back of substantial reductions in local authority budgets.

In 2013-14, 1,267,000 adults in England received a social care services from their council, down 5% from 2012-13 and by 29% since 2008-9, show provisional official statistics released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

The figures reflect the substantial cuts to adult social care funding that have taken place in recent years. Last week, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services revealed that budgets have been cut by 26% from 2010-11 to 2014-15 after taken account of inflation and demographic pressures.

Contrary to government and local authority efforts to support more people in their own homes, the sharpest falls in client numbers continue to be in community-based services, where service user numbers fell by 5% from 2012-13 to 2013-14, compared with 3% in residential and nursing homes.

The HSCIC also reported that more people are approaching councils for adult social care support, despite fewer receiving support. There were 2,157,000 contacts from new clients in 2013-14, up 4% from 2012-13 and up 6% from 2008-9. An increasing proportion of them were dealt with at the first point of contact – 54%, up from 53.4% – with a smaller proportion requiring an assessment or commissioned service, continuing a trend.

Besides budget cuts, the reduction in the number of service users has been attributed to council efforts to help people remain at home through services such as reablement.

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One Response to Number of social services clients down by 29% in five years

  1. Tim Ray July 9, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    A significant part of this ‘reduction’ in community based services is probably down to the way Councils are recording these services in the national data returns.

    Despite the pledge to end ‘top down’ targets the Health Secretary in 2013 set out a target for the proportion of service users receiving self directed support in the form of a direct payment or personal budget. The national indicator (1C) against which Councils would be judged was fundamentally flawed in that it included people receiving non-chargeable services that could not be provided through a self-directed support process. As a result many Councils, but not all, devised ways of removing these people from the numbers counted as receiving community based services, for example by re-classifying reablement as part of the assessment process rather than as a service in its own right.

    Thus a well-intentioned but poorly thought out target from the top has led to an apparent drop in people receiving ‘services’. An own goal from both sides at a time when evidence of the growing demand for Council support is needed as never before.