“The easy savings have long since gone. Councils are being faced with tough decisions about cutting valued services, increasing council tax and fees and charges during a cost-of-living crisis. "
Councils face tough decisions around maintaining care and support services as financial pressures demands further savings from adult social care, warns the Local Government Association (LGA) and ADASS (the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) today.
New data published by ADASS, shows at least a third of adult social care leaders in England need to find another £83.7 million of cuts as we head into winter, on top of the £806 million in savings directors across England committed to make in their budgets this year1.
The true cost of social care for local councils is likely to be even higher, because the cost of providing care to all of those people who need it is not included in the current projections. At present there are nearly a quarter of a million people waiting for their care needs to be assessed and a significant number of them are likely to be entitled to some form of council funded social care, whether short-term support or long-term care.
The survey also reveals an 8% increase to waiting lists with 470,000 older and disabled people waiting for care to start, direct payments or their care needs assessed. While this is down 20,000 since last autumn2, it is still unacceptably high and reflects the continuing challenges around recruitment and retention of care staff.
All council services are under pressure to find savings as costs and demand pressures continue to rise - analysis from the LGA found that councils in England face a funding gap of £4 billion over the next two years, which is a £1 billion increase since the LGA’s initial analysis in July. It also shows that by 2024/25 cost and demand pressures will have added £15 billion (almost 29 per cent) to the cost of delivering council services since 2021/22.
Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board said: “Councils are facing severe funding and demand pressures, meaning finances are under strain like never before.
“The easy savings have long since gone. Councils are being faced with tough decisions about cutting valued services, increasing council tax and fees and charges during a cost-of-living crisis.
“Immediate investment is needed in the Autumn Statement in order to address unmet and under-met need and ensure timely access to social care for all who need it.”
ADASS President, Beverley Tarka, said, “Without the extra funds the Government3 has invested in adult social care this year, we’d be in an even worse place. But what this survey shows is while that’s stopped the ship sinking, it hasn’t moved us out of the storm we’re trying to navigate.
“Social care leaders and their teams are struggling to find savings and meet people’s needs at least minimally, but they can’t perform miracles from already overstretched budgets. Thousands of people are waiting for their council to assess their care needs and some of these people will reach crisis point and end up in hospital this winter, because they haven’t got the support they need in time.
“Ahead of the Autumn Statement, we are calling on Government to provide an additional £900 million to stabilise adult social care, helping us to recruit and retain more care workers and support more people that need care and support now.
“In the longer term we need a fully funded plan for social care which takes account of the true cost of essential social care. We ask that the government demonstrate that it values the lives of all of us, not least people needing and working in social care. Older and disabled people, people from poorer and culturally diverse communities, carers, people with mental ill health, those experiencing domestic abuse and the largely female workforce, are leading restricted or foreshortened lives, when social care can support gloriously ordinary lives.”
Cllr Bill Revans, Leader of Somerset Council said:
“It is clear we are one of the growing number of councils nationally to be facing a financial emergency, with an expected increase of £70m in adult social care costs next year.
The government's abandoned Fair Cost of Care exercise - which was originally intended to be supported by a Health and Social Care Levy - saw the cost of residential care in Somerset rise from £577 weekly to £850 – an increase of 47%. Demand for care has increased by 16%, and with living wage and consumer price index increases, we're predicting fees to increase by a further 5.7% - 8.1%.
These cost increases mean we simply cannot offer the same level of service that we have previously and are reviewing all spending across all areas.
There is a fundamental structural problem with local government funding as our costs are rising much faster than our ability to raise income. This is a national problem which needs a national solution.”
Cllr Ray Morgon, Leader of Havering Council, said:
“Havering Council is on the brink of financial crisis where, costs particularly around social care, are more than our resources. We are facing a £31.2 million budget gap in 2024/25, which rises to £77 million over the next four years.
“This is because we have seen drastic cuts to our government funding coupled with one of the oldest populations in London together with the second fastest growing young population in the country. The funding formula used to determine our grant from Central Government has not changed in the past decade, whilst our population has become much larger with more diverse needs. This has resulted in huge pressure and demand for both adults and children meaning that 70 per cent of the council’s budget is spent on delivering social care.
"We have made savings over the past 10 years or more of around £160 million, so this makes future savings much more difficult. There are very limited options left and further savings will mean significant changes to what we do and how we do it, and that those changes will impact many residents.”
“In this year’s budget consultation we have had to put forward some very difficult and painful savings proposals to help reduce the budget gap. This includes stopping some services, significant changes to other services and a Council Tax increase of 4.99 per cent.”
Notes to editors
1. 29% of Directors indicated that they’ve been asked to make savings that collectively total £83.7mn for 2023/24. This is in addition to the £806mn of savings that Directors across England have already planned to deliver this year.
2. In the Autumn Survey 2022, 491,633 – nearly half a million people were waiting for some form of assessment, payment or review. In Autumn Survey 2023, this figure had reduce to 470,576.
3. The local government finance settlement gave local authorities access to around £2 billion in additional grant for social care through the settlement for 2023/24 compared to 2022/23. This is made up of:
- An increase in the Social Care Grant allocations of £1.345 billion (which could be spent on either Children's or Adult Social Care)
- Discharge Funding of £300 million to be pooled as part of the Better Care Fund.
- Adult Social Care Market Sustainability and Improvement Funding of £400 million, which will be combined with the existing £162 million in Fair Cost of Care funding.
- £365 million of additional funding for 2023/24 through the Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund- Workforce Fund.
4. The LGA’s Autumn Statement submission warns that councils in England face a funding gap of £4 billion over the next two years. In its submission to the Chancellor, the LGA said the Government needs to provide immediate funding so councils can deliver the 2023/24 budgets they set this year and ensure that councils have sufficient resources to set balanced budgets next year without having to make drastic cuts to services. It is accompanied by appendices on key areas of council activity that are experiencing sharp financial and/or demand pressures (adult social care, children’s services and housing and homelessness support).