Number of people waiting for care assessments continues to grow

Sarah McClinton

More than 290,000 people are now waiting for an assessment of their care and support needs by social workers, an increase of 90,000 (44%) in five months.

One in four (73,792) has been waiting longer than six months, latest survey figures from Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) showed.

At this rate of increase, it predicts the number of people waiting will hit 400,000 by November – double the total 12 months previously. Results have been extrapolated from responses from 83 councils (55% of the 152 local authorities surveyed).

On 30 April, 294,449 people were awaiting the first assessment of their care and support needs. A further 37,447 who had been assessed as needing a service were waiting for it to begin or for their first direct payment to arrange it for themselves. Also, 210,106 people receiving a service or payment were overdue for a review under the terms of the Care Act.

In all, 542,002 people were either awaiting assessment, review or the start of a service or direct payment – an increase of 37% from November last year.

‘These new findings confirm our worst fears for adult social care. The picture is deteriorating rapidly and people in need of care and support to enable them to live full and independent lives are being left in uncertainty, dependency and pain,’ said Sarah McClinton, ADASS president.

The figures come a week after ADASS published its annual spring survey of its members, which revealed two-thirds of council directors reported care providers in their area had closed, ceased trading or handed back council contracts in the past six months.

As part of government reforms an extra £5.4bn is being invested in adult social care over the next three years to end unpredictable costs and support the workforce. The government has said an additional £3.7bn of funding has been made to local authorities, which they can spend on adult social care.