The costs of caring for adults with learning disabilities could rise by almost £2bn by 2025, councils have warned.
The increase will be fuelled by a rise in the number of adults with severe learning disabilities requiring care and growth in the cost of supporting them. Annual costs are predicted to jump from £4.8bn in 2015 to £6.7bn in 2025 collectively for all 152 councils with care responsibilities.
Analysis released today (Monday 19 November) by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to coincide with the County Councils Network (CCN) annual conference considers projected demand and the higher costs of delivering services.
Around 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability, and of this number 350,000 people have a severe learning disability. The number of adults requiring care is predicted to grow by over 7,600 by 2025.
Opening the conference, the network’s chairman councillor Paul Carter told delegates that the funding announced for councils in last month’s Budget had provided a short-term ‘lifeline’ for local authorities.
However, looking ahead to next year’s Spending Review, he said ministers must recognise the ‘enormous’ extra care costs, which were putting pressure on councils.
In the Autumn Budget Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £650m cash boost for social care in 2019/20, allocated £84m to programmes for children in care over the next five years and provided £45m to the disabled facilities grant in 2018/19.
The move followed the extra £240m pledged to social care by the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock to help hospitals manage demand this winter, also announced in October.
However, Cllr Carter called on the government to consider investing one-fifth of the NHS £20bn ‘birthday windfall’ into social care and community care.
Launching the CCN’s Spending Review campaign, A Fair Future for Counties, the network argues that any money for local government must be distributed to councils fairly to account for rising costs, such as learning disabilities.
Cllr Carter, who is also leader of Kent County Council, said: ‘Our campaign for emergency funding to help us through both the current and coming financial year has been successful. I can confidently say exceeded all expectations. Without this additional funding from government, the consequences would have been severe. So, to government, thank you for listening, thank you for responding.
‘But, we are under no illusion that the challenges we face in the future will have somehow disappeared.
‘Individuals with severe learning disabilities are thankfully living longer and have a much-improved quality life, due to great advances in medical science. However, they understandably have little if any personal wealth or assets, and therefore escalating costs fall directly on our councils.’