Councils face a funding gap in adult social care worth £634m per year, according to research by thinktank the RSA.
The figure is outlined in a report that challenges the claim by former care minister Paul Burstow (Lib Dem) in Parliament earlier this year that there was “no gap” between demand for adult social care and councils’ budgets for the services.
Mr Burstow told a select committee in January that a £7.2bn transfer from health budgets to local government, combined with “efficiency gains through redesigning services”, meant councils had enough money for care services.
But the RSA report said: “Even after the extra money from government and the savings that Paul Burstow called for, a clear funding gap remains.”
It said the cost of adult social care had risen by 4.1% per year because of rising demand, adding that this had taken place alongside an average cut to councils’ care budgets of 4.4% per year.
The report estimated that saving money by redesigning services would allow councils to cope with the 4.1% rise in demand, but would not leave enough money to address the 4.4% cuts.
This meant there was an annual gap of £634m, the equivalent of 4.4% of councils’ care budgets, it said.
The report’s author, Jonathan Carr West, said: “Evidence drawn from the real budgets of councils across the country undermines the government’s claim that there is no current funding crisis in adult social care.
“Crucial to driving down costs and delivering better outcomes is a switch focus to preventative services – but this will require not just political bravery but structural and budgetary reform.”