LGA: Huge spending on children’s and adult social care not enough to support everyone, councils warn

New analysis by the LGA shows that social care-providing authorities, who want to be able to support all children and adults to lead an equal life, are now spending more than 60 per cent of their outgoings on these essential services, underlining the urgent need for action to address immediate pressures now.


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Children’s and adult social care services could fail to support everyone they need to despite making up nearly two-thirds of councils’ total spending due to rising demand, increasing costs and inadequate funding, local leaders warn today.

New analysis by the Local Government Association shows that social care-providing authorities, who want to be able to support all children and adults to lead an equal life, are now spending more than 60 per cent of their outgoings on these essential services, underlining the urgent need for action to address immediate pressures now.

It comes as this year’s virtual National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC) opens today (Wednesday), featuring Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid, Chief Medical Officer for England Prof Chris Whitty, NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard and Children’s Minister Will Quince, among other high-profile speakers over three days.

The LGA, which represents councils, says serious questions remain about whether the expected £5.4 billion from the new Health and Care Levy over the next three years will be enough to pay for recently-announced adult social care reforms.

No funding was made available in the recent Spending Review to address immediate pressures on adult social care, including urgent action which is still needed on care worker pay and on staff recruitment and retention. The LGA says money raised from the new Levy should also be used to support frontline social care, to stave off the worst of the pressures and provide a degree of stability for the short- to medium-term.

The LGA also says that as well as existing and future pressures on adult social care, spiralling demand on children’s social services and future cost pressures in children’s social care are set to increase by an estimated £600 million each year until 2024/25, with many councils finding themselves in the unsustainable position of consistently having to overspend their children’s services budgets.

Instead councils need the right level of funding to provide the early intervention and prevention support to stop children reaching crisis point in the first place.

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Everybody who is in need of social care to live their best life, no matter their age, should be able to receive it.

“Councils want to do all they can to help people to live the life they want to lead, safe and well, but are now seriously concerned they may be unable to meet their full range of legal duties towards all those who need care and support.

“Steadily growing demand has seen councils with these responsibilities devoting nearly two-thirds of their total spending to both children’s and adult social care, which is simply unsustainable.

“There is a very real risk that local residents will feel they are paying twice with an increased social care precept on their council tax bills, on top of the new health and care levy, yet see their experience of social care services deteriorate due to dwindling resources.

“The Government’s imminent white paper on adult social care should set out precisely how money raised from the levy will address all of its reforms, while also diverting more money to the frontline to urgently meet immediate pressures, including on care worker pay and staffing.

“Children’s social care also needs an immediate funding boost to address a £600 million shortfall, amid spiralling demand and rising costs while we await the outcome of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.”

Notes to editors

The LGA’s analysis is based on total service expenditure as stated in provisional Revenue Outturn 2020/21 Summary data, i.e. how much councils spend on each service. The figures for adult social care and children’s social care have been combined.

It should not be used as an indicator of a share of councils’ overall budgets, which is calculated differently.

Education expenditure has been excluded from these calculations, as this is a grant which passes through councils to schools.

The LGA’s analysis is available on request.