300,000 on social care assessment waiting lists as experts warn ‘worst fears’ are coming true

The adult social care system in England is under unprecented strain and at risk of collapse.

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In England, 600 individuals are being added to care and support assessment waiting lists on a daily basis as the adult social care system crumbles under unprecedented strains.

In the past five months, the number of people awaiting an assessment of their needs by social workers has increased by about 90,000 (44%) to reach almost 300,000. One in four individuals has waited for more than six months.

At this rate, the number of people on the waiting list will reach 400,000 by November, which is double the number from one year ago.

The most recent statistics were compiled by ADASS, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, through its local council members in England. The results are derived from 83 councils’ replies (55 percent of those concerned).

On the count date of 30 April, a total of 294,449 individuals were awaiting the initial evaluation of their care and support requirements, with 73,792 having waited for more than six months.

An additional 37,447 individuals who had been determined to require a service were waiting for it to begin or for their first direct payment to arrange it for themselves. In accordance with the Care Act, a review was late for 210,106 individuals receiving a service or payment.

In all, 542,002 individuals were awaiting an evaluation, review, or the initiation of a service or direct payment, a 37 percent increase from November of the previous year.

The results were released less than a week after ADASS released its thorough annual Spring Survey of its members and issued a warning that those who work in adult social care and those who rely on it were suffering the most difficult winter ever.

Sarah McClinton, ADASS President, said: “These new findings confirm our worst fears for adult social care.

“The picture is deteriorating rapidly and people in need of care and support to enable them to live full and independent lives are being left in uncertainty, dependency and pain.”

Cathie Williams, ADASS chief executive, said: “Contrary to claims, social care is not being fixed and we need decisive action and funding now to get us through the months ahead and to start to build the foundations of the reformed system that we all want to see.”

The ADASS Spring Survey found that the majority of councils were experiencing increases in the number of people seeking support: 87 percent reported that more people were seeking assistance for mental health issues, 67 percent for domestic abuse or protection, and 73 percent for the breakdown of unpaid carer arrangements.

In addition, 82 percent of councils reported an increase in referrals from hospitals, and 74 percent reported an increase in referrals or requests for assistance from the community.

Nearly seven out of ten ADASS members questioned said that care providers in their region had terminated or returned contracts.

Many more stated they were unable to provide all care and support demands due to their inability to attract and retain workers.

Cathie Williams said: “One big reason why almost 40,000 people are waiting for the care and support they need to actually start is that care providers simply do not have the pairs of hands they need to sustain services.”

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “The ongoing chronic shortage of social care services and care staff mean family members are left with no choice but to pick up more care.

“Unpaid carers are now providing more care than at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly those on the lowest incomes and this is impacting their finances and health and wellbeing.

“Before the pandemic, 600 people a day in the UK were leaving their jobs to care – this could be even higher now.

“Amidst the cost of living crisis, the large gaps in support are affecting the ability of thousands to stay in work and pay their rising bills. Too many are being pushed further into poverty.

“With hundreds of thousands of people now waiting for an assessment or service, sustainable funding for social care is essential.

“Without it, many families will simply be unable to cope – 73% of Social Services Directors have reported rising numbers of breakdowns of unpaid carer arrangements, according to ADASS.

“If Government brought forward a Recovery and Respite plan immediately it would bring unpaid carers of all ages the help they so urgently need, help swathes of people stay in work and sustain our hard-pressed health and care systems.

“We want to see an immediate investment of £1.5 billion in breaks for carers to help them cope and targeted financial support.”

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