People turn to local authorities to fund care

People turn to local authorities to fund care

Local authorities are receiving more requests for support from individuals who are struggling to fund their social care, highlighting the need for reform in this area.

An NHS report, Adult social care activity and finance report, published today (October 22), found local authorities received 1.9m requests for support from individuals requiring care in 2018, an increase of 3.8 per cent on 2017/18 and 5.7 per cent on 2015/16.

More than half of local authorities (85 out of 152) stated they saw an increase in requests in 2018/19.

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Last year adult social care cost local authorities £18.7bn, an increase of £807m on 2017/18, partly due to the improved better care fund, which saw councils given an extra £2bn by the government over three years, and an increase in those requiring support for complex needs.

Despite this the report found the number of clients receiving long-term care has decreased each year since 2015/16, to reach 841,850 in 2018/19. 

It said this had been driven by fewer people aged 65 and over receiving long-term care since 2015/16, with numbers down 39,060 to 548,435, while the number of clients aged 18 to 64 receiving care increased by 8,390 in the period to reach 293,415.

Tracy Crookes, financial planner at Quilter, said: “While it is unsurprising the cost of social care is going up, the more worrying trend is the figure that the number of people receiving long-term care has dropped.

"This is despite the fact the number of requests has increased to an extra 195 per day. 

“This is not just a statistic, however. These are elderly people desperately in need of long-term support being turned away because the system is broken.”

Ms Crookes said despite the rising costs the government had still not presented solutions on how to fix this.

She said: “This ultimately means that family and friends are left to pick up the pieces and millions of unpaid carers are propping up the system. Many have to forgo their own financial and personal wellbeing in order to do just that. 

“This is a crisis that is reverberating throughout many corners of the economy."

Last week (October 14) the government announced in the Queen’s Speech that it will introduce changes to social care to "ensure dignity in old age".

But besides a planned 2 per cent precept that will enable councils to access a further £500m for adult social care, no detail was given on what would be included as part of the proposals.

Previously a number of policy ideas such as a Care Isa, a cap on lifetime social care charges and tax-free withdrawals from pension pots were reportedly under consideration but these were not mentioned in last week's speech.

In addition to funding adult social care through council tax and grants from the government, for the last three years local authorities have been able to use a precept to raise funds.

This works by allowing councils which provide social care to adults to increase their share of council tax. It means that adult social care gets more of the council tax share.