Laura Sharman 04 March 2020

Councils report 'huge overspends' on social care

More than eight out of ten councils overspent on children's social care in the last financial year, with nearly half (47%) spending more than their adult social care budget, new figures have shown.

Analysis by financial adviser Grant Thornton UK shows that council expenditure on social care has risen by an 'alarming' rate.

In 2018/19, 47% of councils overspent on their adult social care budget, a 7% increase compared to 2017/18. At the same time, 82% overspent against their children’s social care budget.

Nick Clarke, head of social care consulting at Grant Thornton UK, said: 'Our research highlights the continued increase in spend on social care, for both children and adults, which has put a growing strain on local government finances. Councils are reporting huge overspends, leaving many struggling to fulfil their statutory duties.'

The research shows that the South West had the highest unit cost for adult social care at 15% above the national average.

The East Midlands has the highest unit cost for children's social care than any other region.

Nick Clarke, head of social care consulting at Grant Thornton UK, explained: 'Naturally, it is helpful for councils to look at comparative spend to discover how other regions and authorities are managing ever tighter budgets. Factors such as workforce availability, rurality, demographics and concentrations of provision by the market all have a bearing on how much councils have to spend per head.

'Unfortunately, these contextual factors don’t align well with the system of funding for local government, which is now increasingly dependent on an ability to raise local taxes. Very often this is why councils with a low tax base face much more social care pressure than others.'

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