England social care spending ‘£600m lower than in 2010’

Annual adult social care spending in England is £600m lower than a decade ago, according to a report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The ‘Fixing social care: better quality services and jobs’ analysis found spending per head of the population is spending per head of the population is eight per cent below the level in 2010 for England overall and in 112 of the 150 responsible local authorities.

Regional reductions range from 18 per cent in London, to five per cent in the South East, East Midlands and East of England.

The report warns social care in England has insufficient funding to meet current demand, forcing councils to tighten eligibility and people to rely on informal care from family and friends.

The TUC also warns the sector will be unable to meet future demand from a 49 per cent increase in those aged 65-plus by 2040. 

The report calls for the government’s forthcoming spending review to fully offset the cuts of the previous decade and establish future rises at a level that will allow local authorities to meet rising demand and improve pay and conditions for staff.

In addition, the TUC urges immediate funding to fill all the estimated 120,000 social care vacancies.

Other recommendations include all social care workers being paid a sector minimum wage of at least £10 per hour, an end to zero-hours contracts and “poor or non-existent sick pay” and a guarantee for all workers to have opportunities for training and progression.

The TUC also called for the establishment of a national ‘Social Care Forum’ to bring together government, unions, employers, commissioners and providers to coordinate the delivery and development of services, including the negotiation of a workforce strategy.

The TUC also wants to see a reduced private sector role by phasing out the for-profit model of delivery and a universal service free at the point of use.

“Longer-term, the government should make social care a universal service, paid for through general taxation to ensure high-quality social care can be quickly accessed by everyone who needs it, in every part of England, without any variation in cost and qualifying rules,” it said.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady (pictured) added: “As we face mass unemployment, ministers should act to unlock the 120,000 existing social care vacancies right now. And they should put investment in social care at the heart of our national recovery plan.

“Social care jobs should be decent jobs on fair pay, at the heart of every community. The TUC’s plan sets out how a full funding settlement for social care would work. Ministers can’t spend another decade hiding from the social care crisis.”