Councils received 5,000 new requests for adult social care support every day last year, according to new figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
However, they turned down more than a quarter of the 1,846,000 requests for care for new clients, providing no services for 520,000 people.
In three out of 10 cases (31%), clients received a “universal service” or were signposted to other support, while 16% of people received ongoing low-level support. Councils provided 8% with long-term support and 12% of clients with short-term support designed to maximise independence. A further 4% received other short-term support while 1% received end of life services.
Seventy-two per cent of requests related to adults aged 65 and over.
The statistics come from the report, Community Care Statistics: Social Services Activity, England 2014-15, which is based on a new national data collection from local authorities on short0 and long-term care. It provides new and more comprehensive information on the reasons people need support.
Richard Humphries, assistant director of policy at the King’s Fund, said: “I think in the longer term, [the data] will give us a better picture of who is getting what kind of help in a way the older statistics didn’t. But in the short term the problem is that we can no longer compare anything with previous years, so in the year that real term spending fell by 3% we are in the dark about the impact of that on the numbers of people getting help and I think that is a real problem.”
He added that a single year’s figures did not tell the whole story and while people “shouldn’t “necessarily jump to a gloomy conclusion”, the true picture would not be known for a number of years.
Ray James, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said it was “inevitable” that fewer people receive long-term support “given the scale of sustained budget reductions”. “We are pleased that, according to the Centre just over 90% of people who use our services were satisfied, to varying degrees, with the service they received, but will not be complacent in respect of those people who had anything less than a satisfactory experience of care,” he added.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing spokesperson, said the combined pressures of insufficient funding, growing demand and extra costs, such as the introduction of the National Living Wage from April next year, meant adult social care faced a funding gap that will increase by an average of more than £700m a year over the coming years.
“We need to see a change to the current perverse funding system which, over the last five years, has seen an increase in funding for the NHS but a decrease in funding for social care,” she said. “This threatens to leave councils struggling to commission the essential support which keeps people out of hospital and living healthier and happier lives in their communities.
“Councils are doing all they can to make sure people have access to the services they rely on. However, the government must adequately fund the system and commit to a long-term strategy to ensure that people get the care they need.”