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How spending on adult social care has gone down - despite council tax hikes

How spending on adult social care has gone down – despite council tax hikes

Councils in the West Midlands have failed to plug a spending gap in adult social care caused by huge government cuts – despite using new powers to hike council tax bills.

New analysis shows that Walsall and Solihull councils are in a national “top 20” of councils that have seen spending on adult care fall most dramatically between 2014/15 and 2016/17.

That is despite councils being given new powers to increase council tax specifically to pay for adult social care in their 2016/17 budgets.

Walsall saw spending on adult care fall from £83.4 million in 2014/15 to £76.8 million in 2015/16.

In 2016/17 – the year the new levy was introduced – it rose very slightly to £77.5 million.

That means that despite adding an extra 1.92 per cent to council tax bills, £29 more a year on a Band D bill, adult care spending was still £5.9 million lower than two years earlier.




In Solihull, adult social care spending fell from £70.8 million in 2014/15 to £67.8 million in 2015/16. In 2016/17, despite the levy of 1.92 per cent, £23 extra for Band D bills, it decreased again to £66.6 million – still nearly six per cent lower than 2014/15.

Although not in the “top 20”, also Sandwell and Wolverhampton cut their expenses on adult social care compared to 2014/15.

Sandwell went from £100.7 million to £95.7 while Wolverhampton went from £88.2 to £86.7 million.

The figures are based on the latest data published by NHS Digital.

Adult social care provides help to people who suffer from physical or mental disabilities, or have mental health needs.

It includes the provision of community and residential care for vulnerable adults, including the elderly.




While councils are chiefly responsible for providing it, they have seen their overall budgets repeatedly slashed by the government.

The Local Government Association claims the amount councils receive from the Treasury fell by 26 per cent between 2010 and 2017.

Partly in response to that, the government said that as of 2016/17 councils could put up to an extra two per cent on council tax bills – in the form of a “adult social care precept”.

The precept has proven controversial, with critics mainly from the Labour Party saying it should be for the Treasury – not local taxpayers – who foot the bill for social care. And the new data suggests it has in any case failed to cover the cost of wider government cuts in our region.

At a national level, total spending on adult social care actually rose between 2014/15 and 2016/17.

Councils across England spent £17.5bn on adult social care in the financial year 2016/17, compared to £17bn in 2014/15.

There were 55 out of 152 councils that made cuts.

This happened despite almost all of them increasing council tax to try to cover the funding gap in adult social care services.

On top of the two per cent additional levy in 2016/17, councils can raise the amount levied up to three per cent this financial year and the next, but if they do this, they can’t increase it again in 2019/20.

Only eight local authorities chose not to use the adult social care precept in 2016/17, while 72 per cent cent chose to increase it by the full amount.

Councils that use the adult social care precept raised £382 million during the last financial year.

A Government spokesman said: “We announced an extra £2 billion for adult social care care last year, giving councils access to £9.25 billion of dedicated funding over three years – along with the freedom to raise more money through the precept.

“We will consider how they are using these powers when setting the amount they can raise rates by in future.”

The Government also specified that councils must certify they are using extra money raised for adult social care for this purpose.

According to the government, all councils are answerable to their local electorate for how they spend money, including to deliver adult social care.

They are also required to certify that their authority will use the additional funding for adult social care.


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# / Council / £000,00 2014/15 / £000,002015/16 / £000,002016/17 / % change from 2015/16 / % change from 2014/15

1 / Trafford / 71,044.62 / 56,323.00 / 57,226.00 / 1.60% / -19.5%

2 / Enfield / 105,504.00 / 102,566.37 / 91,480.00 / -10.81% / -13.3%

3 / Thurrock / 46,973.00 / 41,775.09 / 41,185.00 / -1.41% / -12.3%

4 / Manchester / 180,565.00 / 153,983.00 / 159,217.00 / 3.40% / -11.8%

5 / Slough / 44,001.00 / 39,018.00 / 38,877.00 / -0.36% / -11.6%

6 / North East Lincolnshire / 56,018.00 / 47,293.00 / 49,763.00 / 5.22% / -11.2%

7 / Tameside / 67,227.00 / 71,508.00 / 60,095.00 / -15.96% / -10.6%

8 / Kingston upon Hull / 95,509.44 / 85,542.00 / 85,804.00 / 0.31% / -10.2%

9 / Sutton / 63,116.00 / 59,501.86 / 57,180.00 / -3.90% / -9.4%

10 / Greenwich / 92,565.75 / 95,340.76 / 84,328.00 / -11.55% / -8.9%

11 / Lewisham / 97,732.36 / 92,038.01 / 89,089.00 / -3.20% / -8.8%

12 / North Tyneside / 60,704.91 / 53,715.65 / 55,356.00 / 3.05% / -8.8%

13 / Milton Keynes / 75,382.00 / 72,881.00 / 70,053.00 / -3.88% / -7.1%

14 / Walsall / 83,361.00 / 76,847.00 / 77,507.00 / 0.86% / -7.0%

15 / Hillingdon / 84,066.25 / 77,519.52 / 78,910.00 / 1.79% / -6.1%

16 / Bromley / 86,355.00 / 82,421.00 / 81,063.00 / -1.65% / -6.1%

17 / Solihull / 70,772.59 / 67,836.29 / 66,640.00 / -1.76% / -5.8%

18 / Gloucestershire / 205,055.00 / 195,638.00 / 193,090.00 / -1.30% / -5.8%

19 / Westminster / 77,331.00 / 78,668.57 / 72,950.00 / -7.27% / -5.7%

20 / Blackburn with Darwen / 53,077.00 / 48,850.00 / 50,078.00 / 2.51% / -5.7%

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