NHS Digital publishes adult social care statistics

March 26, 2021

A new report has been published this week which uses NHS Digital’s adult social care statistics to show trends over time.

The report aims to draw out the key trends around different aspects of social care that have previously been reported separately by NHS Digital. Presenting the data together in one place will highlight common themes and changes over time.

This publication includes a five-year time series for most measures, covering from 2015-16 up to the latest available figures. In most cases this is to the end of the financial year 2019-20, but some statistics reflect the first half of 2020-21.

The report includes time series data on:

  • New requests for support received by local authorities.
  • Adults receiving short-term and long-term social care support from local authorities.
  • Local authority expenditure on adult social care.
  • The local authority social care workforce.
  • Experiences of adult social care.
  • Outcomes for those in receipt of adult social care and their carers.

Some of the key adult social care statistics outlined in the report are:

  • Demand - There is a growing demand on local authorities for social care support. The number of support requests received by local authorities for adults aged 18-64 increased from 500,670 (2015-16) to 560,360 (2019-2020) and for adults aged 65 and over requests increased from 1,310,060 (2015-16) to 1,370,205 (2019-2020).
  • Expenditure - continues to rise on social care.
  • Support - The number of older adults receiving local authority long-term support has decreased, whilst short-term support offered has increased. The number of older adults aged 64 and year receiving long-term support decreased from 587,490 (2015-16) to 548,450 (2019-2020).
  • Experience - Levels of satisfaction among service users for the care they receive are stable. They are lower for unpaid carers, which can reflect both the support they receive as carers or the services given to their cared-for person. The overall satisfaction of people who use services with their care and support aged 65 and over decreased from 62.6% (2015-16) to 61.5% (2019-2020).
  • Workforce - Numbers of staff directly employed by local authorities in the care sector have increased, and vacancies have decreased.  The number of adult social care jobs increased from 112,835 (2016) to 114,095 (2020) and vacancies decreased from 8,230 (2016) to 6,585 (2020). NHS Digital reported that there were 13,740 new starters (2016) which increased to 15,290 (2020) and fewer people are leaving, with 20,315  reported having left the sector (2016) and 13,980 leaving the sector (2020).

James Bullion, President of ADASS, said, ‘The report by NHSD reveals a number of indications about the rising and unacceptable levels of unmet needs for social care that now exist across all age groups.

‘The report is largely based on data that does not include the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector, however, it provides a great overview of the activity and expenditure submitted by Local Authorities, and it highlights the increased demand for care and support. We must always remember that social care is immense. It’s a complex system that includes unpaid carers, our invaluable workforce, and a strenuous effort to identify unmet needs across the nation.

‘After 25 years of inaction from successive governments, it is imperative that the Government addresses the underlying issues of the sector, provides a long-term plan and reform and adequate funding to ensure that this complex system can deliver a care fit for the 21st century.’

Visit the NHS Digital website to download the reports in full.

In 2019-20, local authorities spent a net £16.5 billion on care. Current demographic trends suggest a greater demand for care and increasingly complex care needs in the future, resulting in care forming an ever-increasing proportion of public expenditure.


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