Rural communities worst hit in adult social care crisis

A new report by The Salvation Army has found that there is significantly less money to care for older people who live in rural areas across England.

Adult social care is largely funded by local business rates, council tax and other local charges but areas with lower house prices, fewer businesses cannot raise as much money as more urban areas. This has led to deep levels of funding inequality across the entire country and prevents most local authorities from providing adequate social care for older residents.

The report, Care in Places, is urging the government to prioritise properly funding adult social care and fund most of it centrally. This is the only way to ensure that money is distributed more fairly and all older people get the help they need.

The Salvation Army highlight that: some areas are able to raise up to five times more revenue than other authorities; some funding streams are so depleted they just cannot raise sufficient funds; the Salvation Army’s care homes top up what it costs the local authority to run a care home; the funding disparity does affect urban areas too, especially those that have been hit by years of economic decline; and that the average level of subsidy that The Salvation Army provides across all our care homes is £302.00 per person per week.

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant, of The Salvation Army, said: “Rural local authorities have been set up to fail with this flawed formula and it urgently needs revision. People are living longer and the population is ageing, the adult social care bill is rising but the local authority funding streams aren’t enough to cover the demand, especially in areas where there are not many businesses or people to tax.

“The government must prioritise its spending and properly fund adult social care. For years the rhetoric has been that councils can raise sufficient funds through local taxation to pay for older peoples' care. This Salvation Army analysis proves that local authorities are being asked to achieve the impossible. Put simply; you can’t squeeze local businesses for more tax if your local businesses are struggling.

“The Salvation Army’s residential care homes see the impact of this funding flaw every day. We are caring for people who don’t have the savings to pay for their own care and stepping in where the council can’t pay for the care.

“In a few days we will know who our new Prime minster is. His priority must be to set a proper timetable for the long-awaited Green Paper on Adult Social Care as that will be an opportunity to rethink how we fund caring for older people. He must also consider how we spend the money saved by years of reducing national debt. The UK has worked hard to close the deficit, it’s time to invest the savings made on those most at need.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils in England receive 1.8 million new requests for adult social care a year – the equivalent of nearly 5,000 a day - and there is a £3.6 billion funding gap facing adult social care by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care and support.

“We cannot duck this issue as a society any longer. What we need is answers and certainty, now and for the future. The new Prime Minister should publish the much-delayed government green paper before the party conferences start and use the upcoming Spending Review to provide both an immediate and long-term sustainable funding solution, which people who use and work in adult social care urgently need.”