Institute for Fiscal Studies warns adult social care funding 9% lower than decade ago

Adult social care spending is 9% lower than a decade ago, despite councils pumping extra cash into the system at the expense of other services, a new report has warned.

Despite efforts to increase funding this attempt to prop up social care was unsustainable given the pressure on local authorities to spend in other areas like housing and children’s services, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found.

Report co-author David Phillips, associate director at the IFS, said: “Whilst social care has been prioritised by councils and benefited from increased funding, spending on other council services has continued to fall – down 32% per person since 2009-10.

“It’s unlikely to be sustainable to continue cutting other services to find money for adult social care, especially with councils saying pressures are building in other areas like children’s services and housing.”

The IFS briefing note found that council adult social care spending fell 10% between 2009-2010 and 2014-2015.

It then increased 7% between then and 2017-2018, leaving it 3% lower.

However, the IFS argues that because of population increases in the last decade, current spending is actually 9% down.

At the same time overall total council spending per person fell by 24%, increasing to 32% when social care is removed, the IFS claimed.

It also found that the councils in the 30 most deprived area of the country made social care cuts of 17% on average, compared to 3% in the 30 least deprived.

Cuts to overall council spending in these areas were 32% and 17% respectively, the report found.

Grants and council taxes have increased adult social care funding by £830 million in the 2017-2019 financial years, the report found, equivalent to 5% of spending.

It added: “An increase in spending of that size would be enough to exceed overall 2009-10 spending, but spending per person would still be lower.”

Shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley accused the Government of “seeing people getting less care and worse quality care”.

She said: “Reductions in spending have resulted in overworked staff, poorer quality care and people failing to get the care they need to live with dignity, hitting more deprived areas the hardest.

“Robbing Peter to pay Paul by cutting other council services is no way to fix the social care crisis that the Tories have created.

“They need to follow Labour’s example and commit to invest £8 billion across this Parliament with £1 billion up front this year to start to ease this funding crisis.”

The report comes the day after the Association for the Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) warned that adult social care was increasingly fragile and needed more Government cash to tide it over until reform measures are introduced.

In its annual budget survey it warned that there was a real danger some councils will be unable to meet their care obligations before long-term solutions – due to be outlined in a Green Paper later this summer – are in place.

Rob Whiteman, chief executive of public sector accountancy body the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, said: “Cash-strapped councils have had no choice but to reduce funding for social care services, but this cannot continue.

“Social care services are absolutely critical to communities and it will be those most at need who suffer the consequences of further cuts.

“The long-awaited Green Paper must recognise the significant pressures on local authorities and set out long term funding solutions for the sector, and not just provide short-term cash injections.

“Otherwise, the social care system will remain on its knees.”

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