Social care not just a concern for elderly, LGA warns

The Local Government Association (LGA), has reminded that social care is not just about providing care for elderly people, claiming bigger financial pressures on councils include providing care for people with learning disabilities.

According to data from NHS Digital covering the year 2015/16, 143,705 adults in England received long-term social care from their local council for a learning disability, of which 15,980 were aged over 65.

In a statement, the LGA maintained that while it is a common perception that social care is about older people, the data demonstrates that it goes far beyond that, and includes supporting many other groups with a variety of needs such as those with learning disabilities.

Around £5 billion of councils' annual social care spend goes on supporting adults with learning disabilities. The money is used to pay for things such as specialist equipment, residential care, or home care help with everyday tasks like cleaning and shopping.

The LGA added that the number of adults with a learning disability needing social care is set to rise by three per cent a year, applying further pressure on local authority finances.

The LGA has urged the government to supply funding to fill the social car funding gap, due to reach £2.6 billion by 2020, ahead of the Budget on 8 March.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Social care is about far more than just supporting our older citizens. It is about meeting a wide range of different support needs, affecting people of all ages. These include the thousands of people with learning disabilities who rely on care and support from their local council on a daily basis.

"But without new money, the support provided to adults with learning disabilities and those other groups who have care needs will be seriously under threat.

"We need the government to deliver a long-term, sustainable solution to solve the social care funding crisis, and not more short-term fixes.

"A young person with a learning disability who has their whole life ahead of them needs to know they have a social care system that will be there for them in the decades ahead.

"Year-to-year sticking plasters will not provide that assurance and will not enable them to live dignified, independent lives.

"Councils face a real financial challenge to provide the best possible support for growing numbers of people with learning disabilities who rightly want care services to help them live their life as they see fit.

"But the system is now on the brink of collapse, and we call on government to do the right thing and use the Spring Budget to inject genuinely new money into adult social care."