Report reveals 229% rise in social care needs assessment enquiries
The number of social care needs assessment enquiries increased by 229 per cent in the year 2021/2022 compared to 2019/2020, according to Access Social Care’s annual State of the Nation report.
The report, released yesterday, paints a desperate picture of the English social care system, with a significant rise in advice demand far outstripping available resources.
Access Social Care is a nationwide charity providing free legal advice for people with social care needs. Its second annual State of the Nation report is based on a data collaboration project in partnership with Royal Mencap Society, Age UK, Carers UK and Independent Age.
With the use of 74,000 separate data points, the report outlines the key challenges facing people who need social care and looks at the extent to which advice demand and provision has changed.
The nationwide data in this year’s report also shows an increase in enquiries that were identified as needing specialist legal advice in the year 2021/22, compared to 2019/20.
The report also reveals that the number of enquiries regarding concerns about existing social care and support rose by 43 per cent in the year 2021/22 compared to 2019/20.
The wellbeing of both care users and care providers has continued to spiral downwards. According to Access Social Care, pressure on capacity has meant that helplines have been required to take on additional staff and expand opening hours to cope with the increased demand on their services.
Charging has also become an increasingly pressing issue, accounting for 25 per cent of the dataset. Local authorities have been pushed into further unsustainable cost efficiencies, increasing charges for social care to meet budget targets and causing further demand for advice on charging.
Kari Gerstheimer, Chief Executive of Access Social Care said: “Whether we are self-funders or in receipt of state funded care, we will all need social care at some point either for ourselves or for a loved one.
“The Government claims to have fixed social care and continues its promises to help ease the cost-of-living crisis, but the sums don’t add up. Millions of people are feeling the effects of an underfunded system.
“We want a social care system that is properly financed, readily available and fairly distributed. Currently, vital services are overstretched, and people are going without the necessary social care they so desperately need – something needs to change.”
Caroline Abrahams CBE, Charity Director of Age UK said: “The findings in this report provide clear evidence of a system under severe duress.
“Councils are struggling to discharge their responsibilities to people in need of care and support and are having to adopt explicit prioritisation measures to deal with the overwhelming demands they face.
“In these difficult circumstances navigating the always complex social care system is a real challenge. It makes the role of charities who provide information and advice about social care more important than ever, both for the people in need of help and by shining a light on what’s really going on in care services across the country.”
Access Social Care provides expert legal advice to disabled people, elderly people, and their family carers to ensure their social care needs are met.