Access Social Care has published its annual State of the Nation report today, which reveals a staggering 229% increase in the number of social care needs assessment enquiries in the year 2021-22 compared to 2019-20.
This second annual State of the Nation report is based on a data collaboration project in partnership with Royal Mencap Society, Age UK, Carers UK and Independent Age. With the use of 74,000 separate data points, the report outlines the key challenges facing people who need social care and looks at the extent to which advice demand and provision has changed.
Access Social Care is a nationwide charity providing free legal advice for people with social care
The report also included the following findings:
- 88% increase in enquiries that were identified as needing specialist legal advice in the year 2021/22, compared to 2019/20.
- The number of enquiries regarding problems or concerns about existing social care and support rose by 43% in the year 2021/22 compared to 2019/20.
- The wellbeing of both care users and care providers has continued to spiral downwards, because of the widening gaps in necessary support needed for people to live fulfilled and meaningful lives.
- This pressure on capacity has meant that helplines have been required to take on additional staff and expand opening hours to cope with the increase in demand on their services.
- Household bills continue to soar, the lifetime cost of care cap has been announced, and there has been a wider adoption of the minimum income guarantee (MIG) which has failed to rise in line with real time inflation - in consequence, charging has become an ever more pressing issue, accounting for 25% of the whole dataset.
- Cash-strapped local authorities (LA’s) have been pushed into further unsustainable and undignified cost efficiencies. LA’s have no option but to increase charges for social care to meet crippling budget targets and the demand for advice on charging continues to rise as a result.
Kari Gerstheimer, Chief Executive of Access Social Care said, ‘Once again the State of the Nation report has highlighted serious issues within the English social care system, and at what cost? Most local authorities cannot meet the demand for care. This affects all of us. Whether we are self-funders or in receipt of state funded care, we will all need social care at some point either for ourselves or for a loved one. The Government claims to have fixed social care and continues its promises to help ease the cost-of-living crisis, but the sums don’t add up. Millions of people are feeling the effects of an underfunded system.
‘We want a social care system that is properly financed, readily available and fairly distributed. Currently, vital services are overstretched, and people are going without the necessary social care they so desperately need - something needs to change.’
Caroline Abrahams CBE, Charity Director Age UK said, ‘The findings in this report provide clear evidence of a system under severe duress. Councils are struggling to discharge their responsibilities to people in need of care and support and are having to adopt explicit prioritisation measures to deal with the overwhelming demands they face.
Abrahams added, ‘To a great extent this problem is not new, but it has been made worse by the pandemic. For example, Age UK's own research shows how being cooped up at home for long periods, largely inactive, and being unable to get timely medical treatment, has caused the health and care needs of significant numbers of older people to become more pronounced.
‘In these difficult circumstances navigating the always complex social care system is a real challenge. It makes the role of charities who provide information and advice about social care more important than ever, both for the people in need of help and by shining a light on what's really going on in care services across the country.’
Visit the Access Social Care website to download the report in full.
In other news, The cost of living crisis continues to hit the headlines and care workers across the UK are struggling to cope with the rising costs.