Wigan Council spends more than £165m on adult social care
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In his autumn statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a further £4.7bn for adult social care up to 2024-25, aimed at aiding hospital discharge rates and freeing up beds, and providing local authorities with more money for services.
But health think tank Nuffield Trust said budgets are being stretched due to inflationary pressures, and the system needs long-term funding to address severe workforce and capacity shortages.
NHS Digital figures show total expenditure on adult social care in Wigan was £161.7m in the year to March.
Of this, £40.4m was spent on council-run services and £121.3m on external businesses offering adult social care.
The majority of the funding (79 per cent) went towards providing long-term care.
Wigan Council can offset the amount it spends on providing care through various income and funding streams, such as investment from the NHS and joint arrangements with patients.
Last year, it received £34.2m, meaning its gross spending on providing adult social care sat at £125.7m – up from £116.4m in 2020-21.
Gross expenditure is used by the NHS to monitor how much adult social care costs local authorities each year.
This includes patients paying for services themselves – which amounted to £21.1m in Wigan in 2021-22.
Only last month the local authority’s leader, Coun David Molynueux, said it was facing an unprecedented challenge to its budget following “the catastrophic failure of government to properly fund local services”.
He said that times had become so straitened for the town hall that it was having to use some of its reserves to make ends meet, its so-called “rainy day fund.”
Across England, gross spending on adult social care services rose for the sixth successive year, reaching £22bn – the highest point in real and cash terms since records began in 2005-06.
But despite the continued rise in investment, as well as Mr Hunt's added funding announced in the autumn statement, the Nuffield Trust said the money available to deal with the increasing demand on adult social care services falls short of the required standard given the inflationary pressures local councils and providers face.
Natasha Curry, deputy director of policy at the think tank, said: "While spending on adult social care has risen for six years in a row, it followed steep cuts between 2010 and 2015 and has only just recovered to 2010 levels in real terms.
"Extra funding announced last week was welcome but it likely will only keep pace with inflationary pressures."
Ms Curry said increasing demand due to an ageing population and a growing number of working-age disabled adults and people living with long-term conditions is also adding to the stresses on the industry.
Across England, almost two million new requests for care support were made last year – up from 1.9 million last year.
Of them, 9,875 were made in Wigan, an increase from 8,350 in 2020-21.
Ms Curry said: "The system needs long-term funding with a focus on addressing serious workforce shortages and limited capacity if we are to see tangible change in the quantity and quality of care available."