Social care budget needs 3.4pc yearly increase ‘to maintain current inadequate levels’

Carer Pushing Senior Woman In Wheelchair Outside Home
Carer Pushing Senior Woman In Wheelchair Outside Home

England’s annual social care budget must increase by 34 per cent within the decade just to “maintain current inadequate levels of care”, a new report has found.

An additional £8.3 billion of funding per year will be needed by 2032-33 on top of the estimated annual budget of £24.4 billion in order to meet growing demand, according to the Health Foundation think tank.

Charity chiefs and campaigners have warned against continuing to provide “sporadic injections of cash to avoid collapse” and criticised “decades of political failure”.

It said the Government would need to increase funding by 3.4 per cent every year for the next 10 to keep pace with the ageing population and increase in adults with disabilities, before even considering improvements to services.

This would increase the total annual budget to £32.7 billion by 2032-33.

The Health Foundation said the funding arrangement beyond 2024-25 – with one-off grants being provided for the next two years – was “uncertain” and that there was already a funding gap of £600 million for 2025.

Anita Charlesworth, the think tank’s director of research, said “significant additional funding from government is needed just to maintain the current and frankly inadequate levels of care”.

“The fundamental problems facing England’s social care system are the legacy of decades of political failure,” she added.

The report considered the costs that different scenarios would incur to either improve access to services, cover the full costs of care, or do both, while also meeting growing demand.

It claimed an additional £18.4 billion would be needed each year by 2032-33 to do all three things, taking the total bill to £42.8 billion a year, up 75 per cent.

It said this would provide an additional 80,000 elderly people with fully-costed care.

Jackie O’Sullivan, the acting chief executive at learning disability charity Mencap, said: “For too long, social care has remained reliant on short-term, sporadic injections of cash to avoid collapse”.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK and co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said “funding is already failing to keep pace with rising demand” and that “at least 2.6 million people currently go without the care they need”.

The report noted its analysis had limitations and “does not take into account additional cost pressures”.

It comes as charity Hospice UK warned of a “critical” funding shortfall of £47 million that had left the country’s palliative care services “under threat”.

Toby Porter, the chief executive of Hospice UK, said it was “alarming and clearly not sustainable” that hospices were spending “more than they receive in income” and relying mostly on charitable donations while just a third of funding comes from NHS contracts.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are fully committed to our 10-year vision to reform adult social care.

“Our ‘Next steps to put People at the Heart of Care’ plan sets out how we are spending £700 million over two years, including £250 million for the workforce, to develop their skills and careers, on top of our £7.5 billion investment to help reduce adult social care waiting times and increase capacity.”

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