Public spending on adult social care in England

Document type
Simpson, Polly
Institute for Fiscal Studies
Date of publication
3 May 2017
IFS Briefing Note; BN200
Social Work, Social Care and Social Services, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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This briefing note describes how local authority spending on adult social care has evolved since 2000-01, what could happen to spending under current plans, and the challenges faced by social care in the long run.

Key findings:

  • Local authorities are responsible for co-funding care services for adults who cannot afford to meet their care needs. In 2015–16 they spent £16.8 billion in England on these services.
  • Local authority spending on adult social care in England fell 8% in real-terms between 2009–10 and 2016–17, but was protected relative to spending on other local authority services.
  • The population has been growing, so spending on adult social services per adult fell by 13.5% in England. This doesn’t take into account that the population is ageing, which will have put additional pressure on adult social care services.
  • Cuts have been greatest where spending, and needs, were previously highest because of how the allocation of grants from central to local government has worked in the last few years.

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