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Think-tank: adult social care is stagnating

Adult social care support continues to stagnate following a successive lack of governmental action, says The King’s Fund.

The latest version of its annual social care report Social Care 360 highlights that adult requests for social care have hit a record high of two million. Key measures within the report all point towards a social care system that is under intense pressure, says the think-tank.

Key measures for 2022/23 are:  

  • Financial eligibility continues to tighten, with financial thresholds for help with the costs of care not having changed since 2010/11. 
  • The cost to local authorities of purchasing care continues to increase faster than inflation – since 2015/16, the average weekly fee for working-age adults increased from £1,400 to £1,540, the average weekly fee paid for older people increased from £670 to £840, and the average hourly rate for home care increased from £17.50 to £20.60 (in real terms – taking inflation into account). 
  • The social care workforce vacancy rate is still at its second highest-ever level, despite the arrival of around 70,000 overseas workers. 
  • There are approximately 19,000 fewer unpaid carers receiving direct support than in 2015/16, and 21,000 fewer people receiving respite care, over the same period. 

The data also shows a slight increase in the number of adults receiving publicly funded social care support compared to 2021/22. However, the report suggests that this is largely due to a ‘correction’ following the Covid-19 pandemic. Compared to 2015/16 there are still 11 per cent more people asking for support and 2 per cent fewer people receiving it.  

Recruitment of overseas staff has also reduced staff vacancies in social care although the tightening of immigration rules may affect this trend.   The King’s Fund argues that, if the next government wants to ‘fix’ social care it will need to increase funding to enable care providers to attract, retain and train staff and implement reforms to make the system fairer and improve quality and outcomes for the users of services and their carers


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