Social care spending sees £0.5bn real term rise for first time since 2010

Social care spending by local authorities has risen in real terms for the first time since 2010, according to an NHS Digital report.

England’s annual spending has increased by £556m in the last year despite a minimal change in activity says today’s Adult Social Care Activity and Finance Report.

Overall expenditure in the sector was £17.5bn and long-term support for patients saw the biggest rise in costs.

However, there was only a very slight increase in requests for support to authorities, meaning that spending has likely risen due to increasing costs in the provision of care.

In response to the report, NHS Digital says some councils cite the introduction of the Living Wage and the growing complexity of social care needs as causes of the overall increase.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the figures show that the government needs to do more to address underfunding issues. 

"The reality is that thousands of vulnerable people are not receiving the support they need and the health service is every day being placed under intolerable pressure as a result," Dickson commented. "The government has promised to put this right and it is now time for them to get on with that."

Earlier this month, the LGA voiced fears of a “perfect storm" of social care problems which could result from underinvestment in the sector.

The comments were a response to the CQC’s suggestion that, despite overall improvements in care, social care is still not at an acceptable level.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board called on the government to bring forward consultation on the issue saying “pre-election momentum must be maintained.”

The chairman pointed to the upcoming Autumn Budget and suggested it be used to deal with the problem, quoting an annual funding gap of £2.3bn by 2020 despite a £2bn injection in the spring statement.

Seccombe said: “It is encouraging that the vast majority of adult social care services were rated good, and that services have improved on last year, which is a massive achievement given the unprecedented pressures across the system.

“Social care faces a perfect storm, and the CQC report is yet another timely warning from a key part of the sector, of the need to resolve the short and long-term future of care as an urgent priority.”

Top image: CQC

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