Social care system at risk of collapse in areas, report finds

Realities of trying to meet costs highlighted in Age UK report
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director

System failures are having an adverse impact on the social care market, with things so bad in some places that it is becoming impossible to source care.

The government is being urged to inject money into the system ahead of Wednesday’s spending review to avert the risk of collapse.

A briefing report from Age UK has concluded social care needs a long-term plan with the funding to match.

Health and Care of Older People in England 2019 draws on official statistics as well as new Age UK analysis to provide a picture of how services are functioning for older people across the NHS and social care.

The total amount of homecare delivered has gone down by 3 million hours between 2015 and 2018, while one local authority lost 58% of its nursing home beds between 2016 and 2018, the report said.

Quoting NHS Digital figures, Age UK said total spending on adult social care in 2017/18 stood at £21.7bn, which represented a real term cut of more than half a billion pounds since 2010/11.

The social care workforce experiences turnover of 30.7%, the document said.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director, said: ‘Our new report paints a frightening picture of where our social care system is heading unless the government intervenes quickly and decisively to arrest its spiralling decline.

‘When you strip out the complexity the story is really very simple: demand is going up but funding and supply are going down, leaving increasing numbers of older people to fend for themselves, rely on loved ones if that’s an option for them, or pay through the nose via a hefty stealth tax without which many care homes would not stay afloat.

‘There are genuine worries that as we look into next year we are seeing the prospect of total system collapse in the worst affected areas.’

The government has provided local authorities access to nearly £4bn more dedicated funding for adult social care this year, and a further £410m is available for adults and children’s services.

In an interview in The Sunday Times yesterday (1 September), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said councils were set to receive £3.5bn of additional funding, including for social care, in Wednesday’s spending round.