Last reviewed 11 May 2021

According to The King’s Fund’s annual Social Care 360 report, 120,000 more people asked for social care but around 14,000 fewer people received it in England between 2015–16 and 2019–20.

The report revealed that the “means test continued to get meaner”, as the means test thresholds for receiving social care were not rising in line with inflation.

The means test “upper threshold”, which is the level of savings and other assets people can have and still qualify to receive publicly funded care, has not changed since 2010–11 and remained at £23,250 in 2020–21.

The King’s Fund report found that, if the social care means test threshold had stayed in line with inflation it would be £5995 higher than it currently is, at nearly £30,000, so more people would qualify for support.

The report highlighted how demand is likely to continue to increase but local authorities do not have the money to meet it.

It also highlighted how the Minimum Income Guarantee has failed to keep up with inflation, meaning adults with disabilities can be charged more for care at home.

Meanwhile, user satisfaction with publicly funded care has fallen and less people are using direct payments, suggesting a decrease in the personalisation of care. For the third year in a row, fewer people used direct payments, falling from 126,000 in 2018–19 to 123,000 in 2019–20.

The King’s Fund Senior Fellow and Lead Author Simon Bottery said: “Following a decade of neglect, there is a continuing gulf between what people need and what they receive”.

The report found that local authority spending on social care had finally returned to the levels of 2010–11 but not if population growth is taken into account. Per person spending was still well below that seen a decade ago.

As a result of the National Living Wage, care worker pay rose by more than inflation but did not keep pace with other sectors, resulting in social care job vacancies remaining high.

Social Care 360 is available at: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/social-care-360.