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Social care pressures highlighted ahead of Panorama documentary

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The County Councils Network has highlighted analysis which concludes rural areas are the most exposed to mounting funding pressures in adult social care, on the day a BBC Panorama documentary focused on Somerset CC’s struggles to meet demand will be aired.

All upper tier councils are projected to spend £6.1bn per year more on adult social care in 2024-25 than they did a decade previously, according to a PwC study for the CCN released last week. It found the 36 county councils in England will increase spending by 43% to £2.9bn.

The study found London Boroughs will see a £958m increase (46%) in spending on adult social care over the period, while non-CCN unitary councils are expected to spend £972m more (41%) and metropolitan boroughs £1.2bn (40%).

The analysis over a decade shows all councils will experience most pressure in the next six years, with spending set to increase by £3.9bn between now and 2025. PwC found spending levels by counties during this period will increase by £2.1bn.

PwC calculates that most of the rising demand in support for adults with severe learning disabilities will fall in county areas. The cost of services for these councils is expected to be £861m higher in 2024-25 compared to the baseline year of 2015-16, with CCN members accounting for 45% of all spending by councils.

CCN spokesperson for health and social care David Williams (Con) said tonight’s Panorama programme Crisis in Care, which is will air at 9pm on BBC One, should emphasise to government the need for a sustainable funding solution for social care.

He added: “The report shows beyond doubt that the current situation is plainly unsustainable. Whilst we recognise the political stasis owing to Brexit, we urge the government to publish its green paper to kickstart a national conversation. Ministers should not shirk the difficult questions as to how and who should pay for care.”

PwC found that overall councils faced a funding gap of more than £50bn by 2025 with counties and county unitaries represented by CCN accounting for 41% of this gap and metropolitan authorities for 26%.

The report used a new methodology for calculating how much councils need to spend to deliver services. While still accounting for differing costs in different parts of the country and rising demand, the report said the methodology was based on delivering a “more consistent level and quality of service provision across local government”.

This showed councils in London have had a “surplus” in funding of £2.4bn between 2015 and 2020 while unitary authorities and metropolitan boroughs also began the period with surpluses of £147m and £18m respectively.

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