There will be a social care funding gap of £4.4bn in England by 2023/24 unless there is an additional funding commitment from the Government, a health think tank says.
The new report from the Health Foundation calculates that without extra funding the money available for adult social care will rise at an annual average rate of 1.4% a year – far short of the 3.6% needed to meet demand.
If funding levels had grown in line with demand since 2010/11, when public spending on social care reached its highest level, spending would have been £6bn higher in 2017/18.
England also spends ‘considerably less’ on publicly funded adult social care per person than Scotland and Wales, the think tank says.
In 2010/11, England spent an average of £345 per person compared to £457 in Scotland (32% more) and £445 Wales (29% more). Today, England spends £310 per person compared to £445 in Scotland (43% more) and £414 in Wales (33% more).
The Health Foundation also warns that poor pay and conditions in social care is ‘a major threat’ to the quality of care and future sustainability of the sector.
Staff turnover has been increasing since 2012/13 and there are over 110,000 vacancies in adult social care. A third of social care nurses are estimated to have left their role within the past 12 months.
Brexit will also threaten recruitment, the report warns. More than 90% of care workers, including those from the EU, earn below the proposed £30,000 salary threshold that could be required to obtain a visa after the UK leaves the European Union.
‘Tackling the challenge of social care reform will require decisive political action and an appropriate funding settlement,’ said Anita Charlesworth, director of economics and research at the Health Foundation.
‘Successive governments have ducked the challenge and the tragedy is that vulnerable people and their families are suffering as a result.
‘If reform remains unaddressed, social care’s inadequacies will continue to undermine the NHS and people in need of care will continue to fall through the cracks.’