More people receiving long-term care following years of decline

Figures show growth in numbers of people receiving services in all settings, but councils warn spending rises not keeping up with need

Nurse helping woman rehabilitate in care home
Photo: Rido/Adobe Stock

The number of people using council-arranged long-term adult social care in England grew in 2022-23 following years of decline, official data has shown.

Overall, 835,335 people received long-term care during the year, up 2.1% on 2021-22, when 817,995 people were given a service, showed the figures from NHS England.

This figure had declined year on year from a high of 872,520 since 2015-16, with the exception of 2020-21, where numbers may have been inflated by the inclusion of people receiving Covid-19 post-discharge provision.

There was also a 2.5% increase, from 613,510 to 629,050, in the numbers receiving long-term care at the end of 2022-23, halting a year on year decline in that figure since 2016-17.

The growth in numbers in 2022-23 came across all service settings – nursing homes, residential homes and community-based care – and among both people aged 65 and over and those aged 18-64.

Spending increase 

Councils also significantly increased their spending on long-term care from 2021-22 to 2022-23, by 11.2% in cash terms (£1.9bn), more than the overall rate of growth in gross adult social care expenditure (7.9%).

Overall, authorities spent £18.4bn on long-term care, 77.8% of their total gross spend (£23.7bn).

The high rate of inflation during the year meant that the 7.9% increase in overall spending was worth just an extra 1.1% in real terms, the sixth consecutive inflation-busting rise in expenditure by authorities.

Additional funding for social care

Since the end of the 2022-23 year, the government has increased investment in adult social care, making available for 2023-25:

  • £3.2bn extra through the existing social care grant, with 60% expected to be spent on adults’ services and 40% on children’s services.
  • £1.6bn to tackle delayed discharges, with the funding split between councils and NHS integrated care boards.
  • £1.6bn through increasing the adult social care council tax precept by 2% and raising standard council tax by 3% in each year.
  • £1.08bn through the market sustainability and improvement fund, designed to help councils increase provider fees, tackle waiting lists and boost recruitment and retention.
  • £570m through a separate market sustainability and improvement fund – workforce fund, which has the same objectives but is particularly focused on tackling staff shortages.

Resource boost ‘inadequate’, say council heads

However, councils have retorted that the extra money is inadequate, both because of levels of demand and increased costs.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) reported that 250,000 people were awaiting a needs assessment as of August 2023, up 11% since March 2023, according to its research with directors.

And the County Councils Network has warned that the 10% rise in the national living wage in April 2024 risks precipitating adult social care cuts without further government investment to enable authorities to fund the rise through provider fees.

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One Response to More people receiving long-term care following years of decline

  1. Chris Sterry December 12, 2023 at 5:41 pm #

    What these figures fail to consider is that yes, there was a decline in people receiving long-term care, but the demand was increasing, however, due to a lack of funding those who were offered long-term care were restricted due to tighter criteria being used.

    Previously moderate care needs would have been funded long-term. Still, the revised criteria meant that virtually only severe care needs were being granted funding, so there was a drastic non-funding of care needs.

    In many instances, the non-funding was not being recorded as many social workers only recorded the assessment of needs instances where they expected funding to be granted. While many persons in need of care decided there was no point in questioning the non-funding for they were led to believe it would be a waste of time, which it most likely was, it resulted in much under-recording of unmet needs. I know this to be true because many families have advised me, so by saying what was the point of making waves and being considered a problem family? That is the power of well-intentioned social workers but missing the need for accurate recordings of needs. They may been warned not to bring any needs that would more than likely not be funded by their senior managers.

    Systems have to be fully adhered to, even though the systems are nowhere near fit for purpose and now statistics are so way out but with no recorded proof that they are.

    The trust in Local Authorities, (LAs) is so poor, but the real problem was and is the government by them severely restricting LA funding from 2010 with their dreaded austerity cuts. This has created the so serious crisis in social care and still no real funding for social care, just some to paper over the cracks, but those cracks are severely widening and now we see how over the years it has and still is severely impacting the NHS. The long-term survival of social care and then, the NHS is so much of a concern, and the survival of both to any degree is suspect.