Over half a million adults in England are waiting for social care, new figures reveal

New research estimates more than 500,000 adults are waiting for social care in England.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) said it is a major increase on last year’s estimate of 294,000.

Adass president Sarah McClinton told the BBC it was having “a devastating impact on people’s lives”.

The organisation said the sector is experiencing a growing shortage of workers which is worsened by low pay and the cost-of-living crisis.

In April, Government advisers said carers should be paid a higher minimum wage and made permanently eligible for work visas under immigration rules to help tackle the shortages.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which briefs ministers on immigration policy, urged the Government to adopt a string of recommendations “as soon as possible” to “alleviate the challenges facing the social care sector”.

However, the body warned immigration “cannot be a silver bullet” to solve “fundamental” problems in the industry, such as “increased demand for care, high vacancy rates and poor terms and conditions of employment compared to competing occupations”.

The Government relaxed immigration rules in February for care workers, following an early MAC recommendation, so providers could recruit from overseas to fill vacancies.

David Fothergill, chairman of the Community Wellbeing Board at the Local Government Association, which represents 350 councils across England and Wales, described the figures as “alarming”.

He said: “No council wants to have to limit or reduce care and support services, but as a result of significant financial pressures and workforce shortages, councils are having to make very difficult decisions to prioritise available resources and capacity.

“While it is positive the Government has set out longer term reforms to adult social care, there is an urgent need to address immediate pressures facing social care in the here and now, including on capacity, recruitment and retention, care worker pay and on unmet and under-met need.”

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