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Two-thirds of councils overspent social care budget

Two-thirds of councils overspent social care budget
By Jess Hacker
21 June 2023

Nearly two-thirds of councils in England overspent on their adult social are budget last year, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has found.

Of those, nearly three-quarters (72%) used one-off reserves to fund the gap for 2022/23, according to its spring survey of 153 directors.

The new report – published today (21 June) – also indicated that councils’ budgeted spend on adult social care rose to £18.9bn in 2023/24 from £17.7bn in 2022/23.

But the proportion of councils’ overall budgets being spent on adult social care has dropped to 36.7% this year from 37.2% last year.

Around three-quarters of directors also told ADASS that they were not confident they could fully offer the minimum social care support in their communities required by law.

More than half (52%) suggested there were more people presenting with care needs in their council area as a result of not being admitted to hospital, up from 46% last year.

Nearly two-thirds reported a rise in domestic abuse relating to people with care and support needs, while 51% saw a rise in people who are homeless needing help.

And four-in-five (81%) reported an increase in the number of people approaching their council with mental ill health.

The survey also found:

  • 64% of leaders said they were concerned about financial pressures arising from meeting the needs of older and disabled people
  • 66% of councils that responded reported that providers in their area had closed, ceased trading or handed back contracts in the last six months
  • Carer burnout was the number one reason given for breakdowns in unpaid carer arrangements
  • 564,584 hours of homecare were unable to be delivered across the English regions due to staffing capacity issues.

Beverley Tarka, ADASS’ president, said: ‘To meet the challenges, we need a skilled and valued workforce to do this – bringing pay in line with equivalent posts in the NHS is important first step.  And we need to offer investment in training and real career prospects in the profession so we can compete with other sectors.

‘In the short-term we are urging the Government to unlock the £600m social care reform funding they have held back so we can improve both staffing and support carers to help keep people in their homes. But to make real progress, we need a long-term plan for investment like the one in the roadmap we published in April, and the political will to make social care a priority over the next ten years so everyone can get the care they need, when they need it in the future.’

Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said: ‘More must be done so that people can get the right support at the right time and to stabilise the social care market. Adult social care leaders are under extreme financial pressure, with many having to spend over budget when they are expected to find greater savings. Three in four are less confident that their budgets will cover legal duties.’

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