Stretched £168 million social care system in Northamptonshire hopes for Budget boost

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An ageing population in Northamptonshire is increasing the strain on a stretched adult social care system which receives more than 10,000 requests for help every year.

With the picture similar around the country, the £650 million boost to services announced in the Budget will be welcomed by councils – but the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said that much more was needed after years of shortfalls.

NHS Digital figures show that the council spent £230 million on adult social care in Northamptonshire between April 2017 and March 2018, where around 10,000 new requests for help came from adults.

But it collected £62 million in income for services, including £30 million in contributions from patients and £29 million from the NHS.

In total, it means adult health care services cost £168 million over the year – £284 for every adult in Northamptonshire, significantly below the average for England as a whole.

The cost dropped by 3% on the previous year.

Adult social care is provided to people with physical or learning disabilities, or physical or mental illnesses. Provision is means tested, and includes support such as personal care, like help with eating, washing, or getting dressed, or with domestic routines such as cleaning or going to the shops.

In total, the net spend on social care across England in 2017-18 was £15.2 billion.

There were more than 1.8 million requests for care across England during the year.

Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, welcomed the additional £650 million, but added: “This is still far short of the £2.35 billion that ADASS identified would be needed for social care to stand still in 2019-20. Councils have been struggling with funding shortfalls for years.

“It is important to remember that social care accounts for over 40% of council budgets, whilst still not meeting all the needs of the community. With rising need and increasing complexity, the demand for care and support services is only going to increase.

“This Budget has failed to provide the long-term funding solution that social care desperately needs – and whilst the extra investment is welcome, the need for that long-term approach has never been more urgent.

“The time for sticking plasters is over - we now need to see a serious commitment towards making social care sustainable.”

Announcing the additional social care funding in the Budget, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said councils already had the power to raise money through a social care precept.

He also highlighted a £240 million increase to funding announced earlier in the year, to alleviate the pressures facing social care during the winter ahead.