Six in seven councils have reduced funding. By Felicity Collier
THE true scale of England’s social care crisis was laid bare yesterday when it was revealed that one in 10 councils have cut spending on it by more than a quarter.
Six out of every seven local authorities has made some form of cut in its care spending per adult resident in the 2009-16 period, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found.
The IFS study warned that the cuts must have been made possible by removing care from a number of people — including those in greatest need.
It said the findings add to growing concerns about the long-term future of social care — which ministers have sought to dispel by claiming that councils will have access to billions of pounds in extra funding between now and 2020.
The report also revealed major disparities in spending between regions.
It found that, last year, spending fell below £325 per adult resident in 10 local authorities and it was at more than £445 in another 10 areas.
East Anglia, the north-east and south-west fared best with just under £400 spent per adult resident, but in Yorkshire and the Midlands the figure was the lowest at £360.
IFS associate director David Phillips said: “It emphasises that the government has got its work cut out in its ‘fair funding review’ of how to measure different councils’ spending needs from 2019 onwards. That debate could get quite fraught.”
Labour’s shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley described the report as a “damning verdict” on social care funding cuts of £4.6 billion over the period.
She said: “This report lays out in stark terms how these cuts are hitting vulnerable people with care needs.
“It’s essential that the
government green paper on future funding for social
care puts forward solutions to solve the current crisis, but also sets out a fair, long-term, sustainable funding solution.”
Public service union Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Overstretched care workers and the people they look after are often in the poorest parts of the country.
“This research illustrates starkly how they are the ones bearing the brunt of the government’s inability to fund the care system properly.”
Age UK estimates that 1.2 million people are living with unmet care needs.
Last month, Labour called for a probe into a “sweetheart deal” between Tory-controlled Surrey Council and central government when plans for a referendum on a 15 per cent rise in council tax to plug funding gaps in social care were dropped in favour of a 4.99 per cent increase.
At the time, Ms Keeley said: “We now see that Surrey County Council will get the biggest increase in share of the funding for social care. There are questions to be answered on all of this.”