Two-thirds of adult social care requests rejected by local councils
Summary: Local councils are struggling to action new requests for adult social care in England as the result of budget cuts, the latest figures reveal.
Figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have revealed the struggle older people and people with disabilities face to get the support they need from their local councils.
During 2014-15, local councils received and actioned 1,845,000 requests for adult social care services, the equivalent of 5,000 new requests for support each day, yet only one third of these led to care or support being provided.
Responsible statistician for HSCIS, Chris Buttery said: "This report provides a new and rich picture of short-term and long-term social services provided for adults. This is now part of a range of information we produce to enable the sharing of best practice, to understand the views of users and carers and to enable benchmarking between councils.
"This data give us more information about the national social care landscape than was available previously. Councils have worked hard to provide the new data, which will be of use for decision making both locally and nationally."
’The current system is failing many people and we desperately need adequate funding’
The report detailed that of requests received, 72 per cent (1,327,000) related to adults over the age of 65 with the remaining 28 per cent relevant to those aged 18-65.
Revealing that 31 per cent (575,000) of requests receive were directed to a universal service or other support, the report further revealed a further 28 per cent (520,000) of requests had no services provided to them. While 12 per cent received short-term support, aimed at maximising their independence and eight per cent received ongoing long-term support.
Commenting on the report, chief executive of Independent Age, Janet Morrison, said: “Today's figures paint an alarming picture of social care services cut back to the bare bones. More than half (59 per cent or nearly 1.1 million) of people who ask for help from their councils receive no help at all or are given information and then ‘signposted’ on to someone else - often a charity or community group.
“This is a direct result of £4.6 billion cuts to social care budgets since 2010 and comes despite an ageing population which is increasing the need for these services.
“And as today's figures also show, these cuts often cause increased costs elsewhere - there has been a rise of nearly 20 per cent for those patients being delayed from leaving hospitals on account of social care and other NHS services not being in place. Without an honest debate about the true cost of social care this situation looks set to get worse and it is the frail and vulnerable who will lose out.”
The figures from the ‘Community Care Statistics: Social Services Activity, England 2014-15’ report are based on new national data collected from four councils that offer both long and short-term care services.
’Lack of support has led to an increase in unnecessary hospital admissions, and early entry into care homes’
Head of policy at Alzheimer’s Society, George McNamara, commented: “Our social care system is in crisis, having a devastating impact on the lives of the most vulnerable people in society. Every week we hear from people struggling to access good quality dementia care locally, leaving them completely in the dark about where to turn to for help and support. We also know that a lack of local support has led to a huge increase in unnecessary hospital admissions, and early entry into care homes.
“It’s people with dementia, their families and carers who shoulder two-thirds of the £26 billion that dementia costs the economy every year.
“The recent decision to delay implementation of a cap on how much people pay for care means that this financial burden will continue into the next decade. Other diseases receive significantly more support on the NHS and it is unacceptable that people with dementia, who often need long-term nursing care, are left to fend for themselves. The current system is failing many people and we desperately need adequate funding. The government has the opportunity to end the cuts to social care in the forthcoming Spending Review.”
In total, almost 900,000 adults received long-term support from local authorities during 2014-15 while a further 74 per cent (659,000) were already in receipt of support by the year-ending 31 March 2015. Of those receiving support, during the year 2014-15, almost half a million (485,000 or 74 per cent) had received this support for more than a year.
More than two-thirds (64 per cent) of those over the age of 65 receiving long-term social care, primarily received personal care. While those aged 18-64 (43 per cent) received support for a learning disability.
’Ever fewer older people being offered help and have worries about the quality of what's available’
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, added: “Every day we hear from older people and families struggling to get the care they need and these new statistics explain why. They show different aspects of a social care system in very serious trouble, with ever fewer older people being offered help and worries about the quality of what's available for those lucky enough to be given a service.
“Older people typically don't like ‘making a fuss’ but they deserve so much better.
“When the Chancellor announces the outcomes of his Spending Review in a few weeks’ time Age UK looks to him to act to address the growing scandal that is the system of care and support for older people in this country. It is no exaggeration to say its future and the well-being of millions of older people depends on the decisions he makes.”
The report further detailed where short-term support was offered by local councils to maximise the independence of service users.
More than 250,000 adults received short-term support during 2014-15 and a further 29,000 In addition, with 70 per cent of those receiving personal care.
Some 26 per cent of those who received short-term support went on to receive long-term support as a result.
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