Trade-offs: local councils face choices about adult social care funding

Published: 15th Mar 2017

In brief


Spending on adult social care has been given a £2 billion boost.


Whether adult social care funding goes up or down depends on how councils use that funding boost. They could put it all into adult social care. Or they might use some of it to free up money for other services.

We have a budget that falls most heavily on those with the least broad shoulders… cuts to social care... that is the agenda of her government and everybody knows it.”

Jeremy Corbyn, 15 March 2017

“...this budget delivers £2 billion more funding for social care.”

Theresa May. 15 March 2017

Adult social care funding is 5% lower now (after than adjusting for inflation) it was in 2010, when the Coalition government came into power.

So is it set to go up or down from here?

Ultimately, the decision will be up to local councils.

It’s true that last week’s Budget gave another £2 billion to English councils to spend on adult social care services over the next three years.

To put that in context, £16.4 billion was spent on adult social care last year.

Councils will get a £1 billion boost next year, £0.7 billion more the year after and £0.3 billion in 2019/20.

In theory, the government has ring-fenced this money for extra spending on adult social care.

But in practice, councils could just use the extra funding to free up money for other services.

So whether adult social care funding goes up or down depends on what councils decide to do.

If councils put all the extra funding into social care next year then spending on adult social care will rise 11% by the end of this parliament, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank.

If they spread it evenly between their services then spending would fall by 2.1%.

It’s a trade-off that each council has to make. The IFS expects most councils to pick a path somewhere in between the two extremes.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of Prime Minister's Questions. Read the roundup.

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