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Annual data lays bare ‘devastating’ impact of social care spending cuts

Older people are facing ‘devastating’ social care cuts, a charity has stated as annual figures from NHS Digital showed a continuing decline in spending.

In 2015-16, councils spent £16.97bn on adult social care, a decrease from £17.04bn in 2014-15. Social care spending is 18% higher than in 2005-06, when the figure was at £14.36bn, but is 1.5% lower in real terms. It peaked at £17.25bn in 2013-14, and last year was the first time since 2009-10 that it fell below £17bn.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said: “The figures published today lay bare the devastating impact of spending cuts on care services for older people. Overall, we see spending on care services for people over 65 reduced in both cash terms and in real terms.

“Spending on support for people who struggle to see or hear has been cut, as it has people who need help just to get around. We can see that there has been a year-on-year reduction in spending on information and prevention and support for carers. These figures make a mockery of the government ambition for a country in which no one is left behind and the reduction in spending on prevention is at total odds with the intention to reduce demand on the NHS and other public services.”

She added that the government should use the Autumn Statement to begin “urgent action” on introducing sustainable funding for older people.

The figures follow yesterday’s report from the United Kingdom Home Care Association, which found that 90% of councils have a gap in their payments to social care providers.

The NHS Digital data revealed that income for social care services increased by 11% from £4.92bn in 2014-15 to £5.48bn in 2015–16, but this was not enough to address the shortfall.

Client contributions provided £2.64bn, roughly the same amount as last year, and NHS funding increased by 21% from £1.72bn to £2.08bn.

Spending on long-term care stayed fixed at £13.06bn, while spending on short-term care declined by 6% to £554m in 2015-16. Of this, 51% of long-term spending and 72% of short-term spending was spent on those aged over 65.

Spending on other social care activities fell by 2% from £3.44bn to £3.35bn, with the largest being a 16% cut from £43m to £36m for substance misuse. The only area to see an increase was asylum seeker support, with a 26% growth from £18m to £23m.

The region with the highest expenditure was the South East, with £2.78bn spending, and the lowest expenditure was in the North East, with £0.89bn spending. NHS Digital suggested this reflected the fact that those are the regions with the highest and lowest overall populations.

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