Social care: what’s the situation?

22 June 2018
What was claimed

Two billion was announced for social care last year.

Our verdict

Correct. This was money for the NHS in England and councils to “support social care providers and relieve pressure on the NHS locally” until 2019/20.

What was claimed

There was no extra money announced for social care this week.

Our verdict

Correct. The Prime Minister announced more money would be given to the NHS in England and has said that the budget for social care will be announced at a detailed review of public spending planned in 2019.

What was claimed

There are 400,000 people who don’t get the social care they used to following cuts over the last eight years.

Our verdict

The number of people in England receiving adult social care from their local council fell by around 425,000 between 2009/10 and 2013/14. Because of changes in the way the figures are collected we can’t compare this with more recent numbers.

What was claimed

There have been £6 billion of cuts to social care in the last eight years.

Our verdict

This is the estimated cumulative difference between what councils in England wanted to spend and what they had the available budget to spend on adult social care between 2010 and 2017. The expected savings this year are planned to take the figure to £7 billion. We’ve asked the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services for more information about the figure.

“Because of deep cuts, £6 billion worth of cuts over the last eight years, 400,000 very elderly and vulnerable people did not get the care support that they used to get before these cuts. That is costing the NHS £3 billion a year. And Damian said there was going to be a plan for that, there was no extra money whatsoever, this week, for social care.”

Jonathan Ashworth MP, 21 June 2018

“There was two billion last year, and you know that well, Jon.”

Damian Green MP, 21 June 2018

A survey of councils in England by ADASS last year found that by the end of 2017/18 they expected to have made “savings” of around £6.3 billion since 2010. This was the cumulative difference between what social care departments in local councils wanted to spend money on each year, and what there was available budget for. We’ve written more about these figures here.

Newer figures from the annual ADASS survey suggest that by the end of 2018/19 these planned savings will total £7 billion.

Spending on adult social care in England fell by 3% between 2009/10 and 2017/18. That followed a fall of 10% to 2014/15, followed by a rise of 7% after that following council tax increases, money from the NHS going towards adult social care and new government grants.

There were 1.7 million people receiving adult social care from their local council in 2009/10, compared to around 1.3 million in 2013/14. That's a fall of around 425,000. Since then NHS Digital, which publishes the figures, has changed the way it records the data so we can’t compare this with more recent figures.

The Health Foundation think tank says that many councils have been "tightening eligibility criteria and concentrating care and support on those with the highest needs" in recent years in response to having lower overall budgets.

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New funding announced, but not for social care

This week the Prime Minister announced that the NHS in England would see its budget increased by around £20 billion by 2023/24. We've written more about that here. There was no new money announced for adult social care in England although the Prime Minister said that the government will set out a budget for this at a detailed review of public spending planned in 2019.

The Health Foundation has said that "3.9% annual increases in social care spending would be the minimum needed, just to continue the current level of service provision for projected demand for social care services, which are expected to rise by around £18bn by 2033/34."

In March last year the Chancellor announced that there would be around £2 billion more over the next three years (until 2019/20) to be pooled between councils and the NHS in England. This money is to “support social care providers and relieve pressure on the NHS locally”. At the time the King’s Fund think tank said the money was “best viewed as a down payment, in the hope of further instalments to come.”

We’re going to look into Mr Ashworth’s claim that reductions in social care spending have cost the NHS £3 billion a year. It’s originally based on a report published last year by Carnall Farrar, a management consultancy.

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