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Adult social care requests hit record high leaving thousands without support

Adult requests for social care have hit a record high of two million, yet fewer people are receiving support, a new report has found.

Adult requests for social care have hit a record high of two million, yet fewer people are receiving support, a new report has found.

The King’s Fund annual social care report reveals a sector under ‘intense pressure’, which it attributes to a lack of action to reform the sector by successive governments.

Health leaders are now calling on the next government to make social care a priority to ensure the millions of people who draw on support receive high quality care when they need it.

Thousands of unpaid carers struggling without support

Since 2015/16, the number of people asking for support has risen by 11%, but fewer people have been receiving it. While there was a 2% increase in those receiving it compared to 2021/22, the report reveals thousands are still living without vital care.

Furthermore, the authors note this upturn is likely caused by a ‘correction’ following the Covid-19 pandemic and does not necessarily indicate a change in the long-term trend.

The lack of government support is also having a direct impact on unpaid carers, with 19,000 fewer receiving direct provision and 21,000 fewer receiving respite care compared to 2015/16.

The report also highlights that financial thresholds for help with the costs of care have not changed since 2010/11, leaving local authorities struggling to keep on top of the costs associated with social care.

Indeed, the since 2015/16, the average weekly fee for working-age adults increased from £1,400 to £1,540, while the weekly fee paid for older people increased from £670 to £840. The average hourly rate for home care also increased from £17.50 to £20.60 (taking inflation into account).

Social care vacancies have fallen but remain high

The number of vacancies across social care fell from 165,000 in 2021/22 to 152,000 in 2022/23. However, the social care workforce vacancy rate is still at its second highest-ever level.

It is important to note that this decrease in vacancies was driven by the arrival of around 70,000 overseas workers, but a recent rule changes means overseas care workers will no longer be able to bring dependents with them to the UK.

This could not only affect future recruitment efforts but it could also lead to an exodus of the current care workforce.

The King’s Fund says the next government must treat social care as a priority, and increase funding to enable care providers to attract, retain and train staff. The authors of the report also call on the government to implement long awaited reforms to make the system fairer and improve quality and outcomes for the users of services and their carers.

Simon Bottery, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund and lead author said: “At a time when adult social care has never faced more profound problems, with record numbers of people requesting support, this is surely the time for the next government, whatever colour it may be, to make social care a priority.”

Government must improve pay and conditions for workers

In addition, a new report launched in Parliament today has revealed that care workers are paid £7,617 less than their direct NHS equivalents.

The report by Community Integrated Care found that 77% of MPs believe that the current rate of average pay for social care workers is unfair, and 80% say the next government should act to improve pay, terms, and conditions for care workers.

Addressing these issues will be key to ‘fixing’ the social care crisis, and the report’s authors urge the next government to act urgently if we are to lower the number of vacancies across the sector.

Teresa Exelby, Chief People and Corporate Services Officer at Community Integrated Care said: “I am privileged to work with thousands of people who live their dream of enabling others to live theirs. But against the joy is real despair too – people working tirelessly to still need the support of foodbanks, friends, or family, finding that they are one ordinary life shock away from personal disaster.

“Access to stable care and support should be respected as a fundamental human right. Things must change, and the public is behind us. Excitingly, we can see that politicians from across the House are too.”

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