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Digest: Social care spending rises for first time in five years

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Council spending on adult social care increased by £556m in 2016-17, representing the first real term rise in five years, new figures show.

The Adult Social Care Activity and Finance Report, published today by NHS Digital, recorded a 3.3% increase in overall social care spending this year compared to 2015-16 and a 1% annual rise in real terms.

The ability of councils to raise the council tax social care precept by 2% for the first time raised an additional £382m.

But the report found that there has been “minimal change” in social care activity and said this could be due to the increasing costs of provision.

The number of requests to councils for support grew by 0.2% to 1.8m.

The report said 58 in 1,000 people aged over 65 and nine in 1,000 people aged 18-65 received long-term support.

A total of 868,000 people received social care, a decrease of 4,000 on last year.

Councils reported factors such as the introduction of the national living wage and an increase in support for people with complex needs as reasons for the rise in expenditure.

The report found the average weekly cost of residential care for a person over 65 rose from £549 to £565 this year, while the weekly cost of nursing care for the same group increased to £606 from £563.

The average weekly cost of nursing care for adults under 65 rose to £911 from £871 and residential care increased to £1,236 from £1,205.

NHS Digital said there are large variations in year-on-year spending among councils.

A total of 10 of the 151 councils reported cash terms increases of more than 10%, while four councils reported increases of more than 20%.

But 42 councils reported a decrease in expenditure on social care.

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