Social care spending up £556m as costs also rise

October 26, 2017

Annual social care spending by local authorities rose by £556m in 2016/17 to £17.5bn, new figures show.

According to NHS Digital, that constitutes a 3.3% increase in cash terms and a 1.0% increase in real terms and is the first time social care expenditure has risen in real terms since 2009/10.

In 2016/17, local authorities were able to raise the council tax precept by 2% for the first time in order to fund adult social care. This raised an additional £382m.

The Adult Social Care Activity and Finance Report published by NHS Digital shows that, while expenditure has risen, there has been minimal change in activity, which may be linked to the increasing costs in the provision of care.

  • 1.8 million requests for support from new clients were received by councils in 2016/17, an increase of 0.2% on the previous year.
  • 9 in 1,000 people aged 18 to 64, and 58 in 1,000 people aged 65 and above, received long-term support provided or arranged by their council in 2016/17.
  • The number of service users receiving long-term care over the year decreased slightly year-on-year by 4,000 to 868,000.
  • The total number of completed episodes of short-term care to maximise independence was 242,000, a decrease of 2.1% from 2015/16's total of 247,000.

Some councils provided comments regarding the change in expenditure for their councils, citing factors including the introduction of the National Living Wage on 1st April 2016 and an increase of support for complex needs.

According to NHS Digital, average costs of care per week for residential and nursing care have risen in 2016/17:

  • The cost of residential care for a person aged 65 and over was £565 a week in 2016/17, rising from £549 in 2015/16.
  • The cost of nursing care for the same age band increased to £606 a week from £563.
  • For those aged 18 to 64, the numbers receiving residential or nursing care in the year are much smaller than the 65 and over age group, but a similar year-on-year effect can be seen with costs for nursing care rising to £911 in 2016/17 from £871 the previous year, and residential care increasing to £1,236 from £1,205.

It says that there is a large amount of variation in year-on-year spending among councils. Ten councils reported cash terms increases of over 10%, four of which reported increases of over 20%. In comparison, 42 out of 151 councils reported a decrease in expenditure compared with 2015/16.

Also published by NHS Digital is Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF). Findings of this report include:

  • The proportion of adults with a learning disability in paid employment has fallen each year over the last three years, from 6.0% in 2014/15 to 5.8% in 2015/16 and then 5.7% in 2016/17.
  • The proportion of adults with learning disabilities in paid employment varies across English regions. London (7.2%) and Eastern (7.1%) have the highest proportion; North West, East Midlands and West Midlands have the lowest at 4.2%.

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