England lagging behind Scotland and Wales in social care spending per person, research finds


New analysis by The Health Foundation has revealed that spending on social care per person in Scotland and Wales is significantly above that in England.

The report shows that England is spending £310 per person on social care, 43% less than Scotland (£445) and 33% below Wales (£414).

The Health Foundation reveals that England has fallen further behind Scotland and Wales since 2010/11 when it spent £345 per person compared with £457 in Scotland (32% more) and £445 in Wales (29% more).

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While the differences in spending can be explained to some degree by differences in population and are needs, the report notes that there is a far smaller gap in health care spending and that this has narrowed in recent years.

Health care spending growth in England has outstripped Scotland and Wales since 2010/11. Scotland now spends 8% more on health care than England and Wales just 3% more.

The Health Foundation also projects a £4.4bn social care funding gap in England in 2023/24.

Funding is projected to rise by an average of 1.4% a year, below the 3.4% commitment for the NHS, and the 3.6% growth in demand.

The report also highlights poor pay and conditions in the sector, with staff turnover rising since 2012/13 and 110,000 vacancies.

While 40,000 nurses work in adult social care, a third have left their posts in the past 12 months.

The think-tank said the sector was finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the NHS where salaries are rising. Brexit uncertainties are also adding to workforce recruitment and retention challenges with the government having proposed a £30,000 minimum salary threshold for obtaining a visa for EU nationals.

Anita Charlesworth, Director of Economics and Research at the Health Foundation, said: “With around two-thirds of staff at the minimum wage and a quarter on zero hours contracts, it is perhaps unsurprising that adult social care providers are struggling to attract and retain workers.

“Tackling the challenge of social care reform will require decisive political action and an appropriate funding settlement. Successive governments have ducked the challenge and the tragedy is that vulnerable people and their families are suffering as a result. If reform remains unaddressed, social care’s inadequacies will continue to undermine the NHS and people in need of care will continue to fall through the cracks.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have given local authorities access to up to £3.9bn more dedicated funding for adult social care this year, and a further £410m is available for adults and children’s services.

“This year we launched a national recruitment campaign to encourage people to apply for adult social care vacancies. We will set out our plans to reform the social care system at the earliest opportunity to ensure it is sustainable for the future.”



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