It seems we are running out of ways to convey to the government the level of crisis that now exists in social care.
The care system has been described as “at a tipping point”, in “a deeper existential crisis”, part of a “humanitarian crisis” and, more recently, “on its knees”. Health and care leaders have pleaded with government ministers to put extra funding into social care, with some even seeing it as the priority ahead of extra funding for the NHS. Local government leaders point to a funding gap of £2.6bn by 2020 and rightly say that funding the growing needs of an ageing population cannot be left to the council taxpayer alone.
Councils prepare to cut essential services to fund adult social care,Read more Council leaders also remind us that the social care crisis is not just about older people. There are many other groups needing social care, including people with learning disabilities. People may be surprised to learn that about a third of councils’ annual social care spending, approximately £5bn, goes on supporting adults with learning disabilities.
The crisis in social care is caused by insufficient funding in the face of growing need. Cuts to council budgets have led to losses to adult social care budgets estimated by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services to be £5.5bn by the end of this financial year. Many councils have had to deal with cuts to their budgets of 40% or more since 2010. They have also faced additional costs from the Care Act passed in 2014, the introduction of the national living wage for the care sector and continued rising demand for care.
The Kings Fund has recently said that adult social care is “rapidly becoming little more than a threadbare safety net for the poorest and most needy older and disabled people”. As we approach the budget and with talk of some additional funding for social care, it is time to ask ourselves if we accept this.