Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Adult social care under ‘intense pressure’ as support requests hit record high

Disability charities are urging the government to increase funding for the adult social care sector and provide a pay rise for care workers to boost recruitment and retention efforts.

The calls come following the publication of the King’s Fund’s Social Care 360 report, which highlights that requests for adult social care have hit a record high of two million.

While the number of people receiving support has increased slightly, there are still 11% more people asking for support, and 2% fewer receiving it compared to 2015/16.

Simon Bottery, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund and lead author says the latest data reveals a sector under intense pressure, which is showing “little sign of improvement, leaving thousands of people without the support they need.”

Social care vacancies remain high

The report shows that costs to local authorities of purchasing care are increasing faster than inflation. Indeed, the average weekly fee for working age adults increased from 1,400 in 2015/16 to £1,540 in 2022/23, while the average hourly rate for home care increased from £17.50 to £20.60.

Social care vacancies also remain stubbornly high at 152,000 in 2022/23. While this has dropped from 165,000 in 2021/22, the King’s Fund say this was largely driven by an increase in the number of overseas workers recruited to work in adult social care.

However, the government has since announced that it will tighten the rules for overseas workers, meaning they will no longer be able to bring dependents with them to the UK. This could not only deter overseas workers from coming to the UK, but it could also lead to an exodus of the current workforce.

The King’s Fund says the next government must make ‘fixing’ social care a priority. This includes increasing funding and enabling care providers to attract, retain and train staff to ensure users of services and their families experience positive outcomes.

Local authorities must be able to pay for ‘the real cost of care’

Steve Veevers, CEO of Hft, said: “This year’s report paints a stark but realistic picture of the social care sector – one that continues to be affected by high vacancy rates, limited funding and a lack of action.

“This undeniably has a direct impact on those who draw upon support and, without clear long-term funding, will likely continue, forcing care providers to make more tough decisions.”

Mr Veevers says the gap between the rate for social care and the wider unemployment rate evidences that the social care workforce continues to be “undervalued and underappreciated”, despite the vital work they carry out on a daily basis.

“To ensure our workforce get the credit they deserve, and reduce the social care vacancy rate once and for all, we would like to see a long-term funding settlement, with ringfenced funding for local authorities that enables them to pay the real cost of care, including a wage for the workforce that mirrors the responsibility and importance of their role. We continue to support sector-wide efforts to achieve this.

“It is high time that the Government, and the next, addresses these challenges and invests in our invaluable sector. Providers should no longer have to shoulder the financial burden of empty promises and funding cuts, and those who need support should not have to fight for it,” he said.

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