Caring for adults with learning disabilities

November 19, 2018

The cost of caring for adults with learning disabilities is projected to increase by almost £2bn by 2025, according to the County Councils Network. England’s largest councils are warning that, unless these ‘enormous’ costs are recognised, the long-term survival of councils is at risk.

The County Councils Network (CCN) has released analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP showing that the extra costs, fuelled by a rise in the number of adults with severe learning disabilities requiring care and an increase in the cost of supporting them, will see annual the cost of caring for adults with learning disabilities rising from £4.8bn in 2015 to £6.7bn in 2025. This figure is collectively for all 152 councils with care responsibilities.

The analysis shows that ‘spending need’ – which takes into account projected demand and the higher costs of delivering services – for adults with learning disabilities could rise by almost 38% by 2025. The number of adults requiring care is projected to rise by over 7,600 by 2025. Because of the nature of care for these individuals, they come at a high cost for local authorities.

Opening the CCN Annual Conference 2018, the network’s chairman Councillor Paul Carter will explain that the funding announced for councils in last month’s Budget has provided a short-term ‘lifeline’ for local authorities and will praise the government’s intervention.

However, looking ahead to next year’s Spending Review, he will say that ministers must recognise these ‘enormous’ extra care costs to ‘ensure the long-term survival of councils’.

To help meet these extra costs, he will call on the Government to consider investing one-fifth of the NHS £20bn ‘birthday windfall’ into social care and community care to address these demand-led financial pressures.

Launching the CCN’s Spending Review campaign, A Fair Future for Counties, the Network argues that any new funding for local government must be distributed to councils fairly to account for rising costs, such as caring for adults with learning disabilities.

The figures show a large variation in costs across the country. County local authorities will bear the brunt of these additional costs; with costs rising by £918m in the 36 county authorities by 2025, which is half of all additional costs. This compares to £313m in London and £350m in other urban metropolitan areas and cities.

CCN argues that these additional costs are outside of councils’ control, and as a result they will have to cut other highly valued services or introduce new or increased charges for other services to make up the shortfall if no extra resource is made available to councils from 2020 onwards.

County leaders are concerned that with the focus on adult social care, the mounting pressures in learning disabilities will fall under the radar in next year’s Spending Review.

Around 1.5m people in the UK have a learning disability and, of this number, 350,000 people have a severe learning disability.

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