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Social Care Not Just About Elderly People – Councils

Social care is not just about looking after elderly people, with councils today warning that care and support for other groups are also “seriously under threat” due to a lack of funding.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, says one of the bigger financial pressures on councils is providing care for people with learning disabilities.

NHS Digital data for 2015/16 shows that 143,705 adults in England received long-term social care from their local council for a learning disability, of which 15,980 were aged over 65.

Councils say that while a common perception is that social care is about older people, this demonstrates that it goes far beyond that, and includes supporting many other groups with a variety of needs such as those with learning disabilities.

Around a third of councils’ annual social care spending – approximately £5 billion – goes on supporting adults with learning disabilities.

This can pay for things such as specialist equipment, residential care, or home care help with everyday tasks like cleaning and shopping.

The LGA says the number of adults with a learning disability needing social care is set to rise by 3 per cent a year, piling further pressures on local authority finances.

The costs of care are much higher for adults with learning disabilities than other groups needing support, such as older people.

It is estimated more than an additional 4,000 adults with learning disabilities will need social care next year, as children receiving support make the transition to adulthood.

Social care also helps people with learning disabilities into work.

But latest employment statistics show that the proportion of adults with learning disabilities in work is falling, from 7.1 per cent in 2011/12 to 5.8 per cent in 2015/16, which councils argue is symptomatic of the underfunding in adult social care.

They say that with more money, more people with learning disabilities could be helped into work.

Social care faces a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020.

Ahead of the Budget on 8 March, the LGA is urging the Government to give councils the funding they need so they can support people with learning disabilities.

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